Aoun: Noth­ing will pre­vent elec­tions set for spring

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON - By Joseph Haboush

BEIRUT: Par­lia­men­tary elec­tions set for next spring will be held and “no one is ca­pa­ble of stop­ping this” Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun said Thurs­day.

Aoun said that ef­forts that went into creat­ing a new law for elec­tions slated for May 2018, which will be us­ing pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the first time Lebanon’s his­tory, would not go to waste.

“Rest as­sured that the elec­tions will take place and this is the will of the peo­ple and the gov­ern­ment. No one has the abil­ity to­day to stop this,” Aoun said dur­ing a meet­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of na­tion­al­ist and left­ist par­ties, in­clud­ing Hezbol­lah and the Free Pa­tri­otic Move­ment.

The pres­i­dent added: “Those who have con­trol over the de­ci­sion are driv­ing to­ward mak­ing this hap­pen.”

With the sec­ond tax hike law be­ing passed after the state’s Con­sti­tu­tional Coun­cil an­nulled the first, Aoun said the sit­u­a­tion of state in­sti­tu­tions is on the right track. “From the Le­banese Army to the se­cu­rity forces, to diplo­matic ap­point­ments, which are al­most done, and the ju­di­ciary,” the pres­i­dent added.

“We hope the im­prove­ment hap­pens in other ar­eas, es­pe­cially now that the dif­fer­ent make­ups of Le­banese so­ci­ety are rep­re­sented by this new elec­toral law,” Aoun said.

The pres­i­dent added that the stage was set for change that has been long called for by the Le­banese peo­ple. “They are now called upon to do this.”

Dis­cussing the gov­ern­ment’s ac­com­plish­ments dur­ing its first 10 months, Aoun said this would ac­com­plish the re­cov­ery of Lebanon’s sovereignty and in­de­pen­dence. “We talked about this on our trips to Arab coun­tries from the be­gin­ning of our term.”

Turn­ing to wars that have taken place in the re­gion, Aoun re­called that from the July 2006 War, “Lebanon [kept] it­self free [after 2006 dur­ing a con­flict in which] Is­rael didn’t have the goal of in­vad­ing ... but rather wanted to in­cite in­ter­nal strife.”

Aoun stressed Lebanon’s full com­mit­ment to U.N. Res­o­lu­tion 1701. “We are abid­ing by [it] and Is­rael is breach­ing it and threat­en­ing us ... by try­ing to con­vince the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to [go] against us,” Aoun said.

He added that Lebanon would no longer re­main silent re­gard­ing Is­rael’s daily vi­o­la­tions of Le­banese airspace and mar­itime bor­ders.

As for the refugee cri­sis due to the bloody con­flict in neigh­bor­ing Syria, Aoun re­it­er­ated Lebanon’s calls for refugees to re­turn to their home­land. How­ever, he stressed that call­ing for them to re­turn, “doesn’t mean ex­pelling them, rather the ne­ces­sity to work on se­cur­ing their safety in their moth­er­land be­cause Lebanon is no longer able to han­dle the bur­den re­lated to the on­go­ing pres­ence of Syr­ian refugees on [Le­banese soil].”

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