Lebanon News

Hezbollah likely to control Lebanon: Gemayel warns

Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel. (The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel warned in remarks Thursday that Hezbollah would likely use its role as a resistance group as a pretext to dominate Lebanon.

“I have the impression that under the pretext of resistance Lebanon’s geography and sovereignty are being nibbled away so that one day Lebanon would fall under the control of Hezbollah,” Gemayel told pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper.

In a wide-ranging interview, Gemayel also warned Lebanon’s political parties against intervening in the Syria crisis and criticized Hezbollah’s logic of “jihadist duty across the border” with Syria.

“This was my biggest fear,” he said in response to a question about reports alleging Hezbollah fighters are fighting alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“So far, [Hezbollah’s] intervention appears to be on a small-scale ... I warn all parties of such intervention and the need for restraint for Lebanon’s sake,” Gemayel said.

He urged parties involved in National Dialogue to agree on the terminologies linked to a defense strategy.

“I hope Hezbollah will converge [on these terms] constructively and courageously,” Gemayel said.

Regarding the dispute over a new election law, Gemayel said his party was exerting much effort to reach an agreement with the opposition March 14 coalition and MP Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party.

“We are in touch with all the parties,” he said, referring to initial communication between the Kataeb party and allies in the Lebanese Forces as well as rivals in the Marada Movement of MP Suleiman Franjieh and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and independent figures.

“But so far we have not reached an agreement,” Gemayel said. “Things are not easy. The election law defines the role of each sect, group or party as well as its future in Lebanon.”

However, Gemayel said the Kataeb and the LF have made progress on a compromise on a fair distribution of electoral districts.

The debate over an election law is exposing contrasting interests among the March 14 allies. Gemayel is a leading figure in March 14.

With less than three months left for the country to launch preparations for the upcoming 2013 parliamentary elections, rival political leaders have yet to agree on a new electoral law.

Although several electoral laws have been proposed, none of them enjoy overwhelming support.

Jumblatt has so far rejected most proposals, including one drafted by the government which calls for elections be held in 13 electoral districts based on a system of proportional representation.

Jumblatt, who has three ministers in Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government, says he believes the 1960 law – a winner-takes-all system which adopts the qada as the electorate – is currently the best option for Lebanon.

Another proposal put forth by March 14 coalition would see Lebanon divided into 50 small-sized electoral constituencies but has been dismissed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Predominantly Muslim parties also reject the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal which allows each sect to elect its own lawmakers by proportional representation.

Hezbollah and Amal prefer the adoption of the entirety of Lebanon as a single district under a proportional representation system.

But like the Future Movement, the two parties have not forwarded their own proposals.





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