Lebanon News

Geagea: Allies should make sacrifices to reach agreement

LF leader Samir Geagea speaks during a ceremony in Maarab, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called on his allies Friday to exert all efforts to reach consensus on a new electoral law.

He also affirmed his alliance with the March 14 coalition in the face of speculation that the lack of an agreement on a new law within the group could severe ties.

"I call on all parties and particularly the allies to make dear sacrifices in order to reach consensus on whatever can be agreed on and instead of cursing the Orthodox Gathering proposal, you could perhaps light a candle for the sake of a consensual one," Geagea said during a ceremony commemorating the start of registration for the LF.

He added that his party sought a new electoral law for the country “because there is a popular, overwhelming demand that is chronic and urgent.”

“We want a new electoral law because the country needs one, not because Christians want to take revenge for previous years ... or a law that brings back the ghosts of the past,” Geagea said.

Both the LF and the Kataeb, the main Christian parties in the opposition, have voiced their support for the Orthodox Gathering proposal, joining forces with the Free Patriotic Movement and Marada Movement in voting in its favor at the committee level.

Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have also favored the draft law.

The Future Movement along with President Michel Sleiman and MP Walid Jumblatt have argued that such a law would only deepen sectarian divides in the country, given that it mandates that every sect to elect its own MPs.

The draft law, based on proportional representation with Lebanon as a single district, has also been rejected by some independent Christian figures.

Earlier this week, the Parliamentary joint committees, tasked with studying a new electoral law for this year’s polls, approved the proposal after Future lawmakers and those affiliated with Jumblatt’s bloc withdrew from the session in protest.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the head of the Future Movement, described Tuesday the approval of the law at the committee level as a black day in Lebanon’s legislation history.

His remarks prompted the head of the FPM MP Michel Aoun to say that “in fact, it was a very bright day.”

The lack of agreement has raised doubts over the possibility of holding the parliamentary elections on their current scheduled date in June while Western and U.N. officials have emphasized the importance of Lebanon respecting constitutional frameworks.

In his speech Friday, Geagea also criticized what he described as “the placebo victory we have seen in recent days,” in an indirect response to Aoun, who said he considered the joint committee’s approval of the law as an achievement.

"Any victory over the other with regards to domestic issues is short-term and a refraction in the long run,” Geagea said.

“We want a new electoral law but with the approval of everyone and not by placing parties against each other,” he added.

Geagea also criticized allegations that his party was sectarian only because it supported the controversial electoral proposal and noted that the LF has long fought for national principles.

“The Lebanese Forces, its figures and me personally have been targets of harsh and unjust campaigns that doubted us and they were not justified," he said.

“The party has never allowed an occasion of sectarian incitements to pass without confronting it in a clear and direct manner,” the LF head noted. “The party whose leader was a target of assassination and whose MPs are under surveillance are as such not because they're sectarian ... but because they are independent, sovereign and struggle for the Lebanese people and their freedom."

Reiterating his firm alliance with the March 14 group, Geagea said: "Our party fought for Lebanon's case that the March 14 embodies and we are the March 14 and the Cedar Revolution."

Geagea, a staunch critic of the President Bashar Assad and his embattled government, also took a jab at the Syrian regime, noting the recent decision by the Lebanese judiciary to recommend the death penalty for two Syrian security officials on terror charges.

“It is not a coincidence that on the day we are announcing the opening of the registration for the Lebanese Forces, the Lebanese judiciary issues an indictment against the person who himself disbanded the party,” Geagea said.

Military Investigative Judge Riyad Abu Ghayda recommended Wednesday the death penalty for former Information Minister Michel Samaha, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, and his aide, Col. Adnan, whose family name remains unknown.

According to the indictment, the Syrian officers handed Samaha explosives. It also charged Samaha with transporting the bombs in his car from Syria to Lebanon.

“The occupation and its tools accused the party of false things to strip it of its legitimate rights and today particularly in recent days, local and international judiciary accuse them of terrorist issues from the Samaha-Assad case, the attempted assassination of MP Butros Harb, the Bulgarian bombing, to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri,” Geagea said, referring to Hezbollah.

Bulgaria has accused the Lebanese resistance group of involvement in last year’s bombing in Burgas that targeted a bus and killed five Israeli tourists along with their Bulgarian driver.

Hezbollah has dismissed the allegations and has denied involvement in the attempted killing of Harb and the 2005 assassination of Hariri.





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