Hariri Proposes Roadmap to 'Protect Lebanon': Electing New President a National Priority and We Reject Parliamentary Term Extension

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday called for “immediately” electing a new president and holding parliamentary polls, as part of a roadmap that aims at “protecting Lebanon.”

Hariri also blasted Hizbullah, slamming “any group that sends its youth into perish as a terrorist group.”

"For years, we said Lebanon is in the heart of the storm and that all officials and leaders must take national stances. Today we are living what is happening in the Arab world and we are witnessing a dangerous chapter of divisions, sectarian conflicts, and the fall of political regimes that were fertile for the growth of terrorism, sedition and civil wars,” Hariri said in a speech he gave at the annual Iftar of al-Mustaqbal Movement.

“Objectivity and honesty require acknowledging that it would be difficult to isolate Lebanon completely from these dangers,” he noted.

But national duty requires us not to give up to this reality and consider that falling into the abyss is a destiny, Hariri stressed, adding that the “Lebanese need a roadmap which prioritizes national interest and stability.”

The first step in the former PM's roadmap includes electing a new president and ending the vacuum at the country's top post.

“This is a national priority,” Hariri considered.

“Secondly, (the roadmap includes) forming a new cabinet that is similar to the current one. The cabinet, alongside the new president, will rule in the coming phase and hold the parliamentary elections,” he added.

“Thirdly, Hizbullah's withdrawal from the Syrian war. And fourthly, setting up a national comprehensive plan to confront terrorism in all its forms. This is a national duty that is the responsibility of the state, not of any sect or party.”

Hariri also called for agreeing on an emergency plan to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis “to prevent dragging Lebanon into the Syrian crisis whether on the security, social or economic levels.”

As well, he urged preventing the extension of the parliament's term, but remarked that parliamentary polls should come after electing a new president.

“The entryway to parliamentary elections is electing a president today before tomorrow because polls without a president means a resigned cabinet and the prevention of forming a new council of ministers. Who will sign decrees and hold consultations then?”

“To get accustomed to the absence of a president is a danger that threatens the presidency. The (Lebanese) president is the only Christian leader in the Islamic world and vacuum is against the formula that the Lebanese have agreed on,” he explained.

Hariri indirectly rejected Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun's proposal of electing a president by the people.

“Any attempt to override national consensus and the Taif Agreement is a step into the unknown that would further complicate things and cause more divisions and contribute to vacuum,” the al-Mustaqbal Movement's head said.

He assured that his party does “not have a veto against anyone (for taking office).”

He elaborated: “We will provide quorum regardless of the elections' results. We (al-Mustaqbal bloc) contribute to the election of a president but we don't decide on it. Christian consensus is the decisive factor in this regard and we agree on their nominee without any reservation.”

“We cannot stand idly by regarding the obstruction of the presidential election because there is no consensus and we will kick off dialogue with our March 14 allies and other parties to end the vacuum as soon as possible.”

Waiting for regional developments to decide on the presidency harms equal power sharing that was established in the Taif Agreement, Hariri warned.

“And we will not find a substitute for the Agreement no matter how circumstances changed,” he pointed out.

In a separate matter, Hariri reiterated calls for Hizbullah's withdrawal from the Syrian war and highlighted again the official bodies' role in safeguarding the country's security and stability.

“We consider any group that involves the youth in perish and in explosions to be a terrorist group and the enemy of Lebanon,” he stated.

And the state is the party responsible for protecting citizens and for prosecuting terrorists, Hariri said, adding that confronting terrorism with tools other than the state's is a “foolish confrontation that involves two groups; terrorists and Hizbullah.”

He also assured that the Sunnis of Lebanon are concerned, like the rest of the Lebanese, with fighting terrorism, preventing its expansion, and rejecting its slogans.

“Any talk about the presence of an environment that encourages the growth of terrorist cells among Sunnis is rejected and aims at justifying the participation in the Syrian war,” he noted.

Hariri had started his Friday speech by holding the international community “morally and humanly responsible for covering up for Israel's massacres in the Gaza Strip,” renewing calls “for immediately stopping the aggression and find a way to enable the Palestinian people to have an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”



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