Saniora Stresses March 14 Unity during Shatah Commemoration, Decries Slow Probe
Al-Mustaqbal bloc chief ex-PM Fouad Saniora stressed Sunday that the March 14 coalition will remain united despite the differences that emerged over MP Suleiman Franjieh's presidential nomination, as he lamented that a probe into the 2013 assassination of ex-minister Mohammed Shatah has not made much progress.
“Shatah believed in the Lebanon of the state of law and equality and he called for the implementation of the Taef Accord,” said Saniora at a ceremony commemorating Shatah at the Mohammed al-Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut, which was attended by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and other March 14 leaders and officials.
He noted that Shatah's contributions “were effective in all the deliberations that led to the final text of (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1701, the creation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the issues of the Shebaa Farms and the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zone.”
“The crime of Shatah's assassination has created a void that we have not been able to fill until the moment,” Saniora noted.
“We have not and will not change our goals and objectives and we will not stop our openness towards all our partners in the country in order to preserve civil peace. We will not back down on the slogans and objectives for which Shatah was martyred,” Saniora vowed.
Turning to Hizbullah's military intervention in neighboring Syria, the former premier said the March 14 forces will never approve of Hizbullah's involvement in the conflict, warning that the party's young fighters are entangled in “a cause that is not their cause.”
“Day after day, it is becoming evident that this is not the proper way to confront terrorism or protect Lebanon from it … This is not the right way to preserve the unity of the Lebanese and their civil peace or their relations with their Arab neighbors,” Saniora added.
As for the relations among the March 14 forces, the ex-PM underlined that “the differences of opinion that occurred or might occur in the March 14 coalition over specific issues cannot affect the core of the cause, which is related to Lebanon's existence.”
“The March 14 forces were and are still a national necessity today more than ever,” he said.
Addressing the issue of the presidential vacuum, Saniora called for the speedy election of a president who would “preserve the Constitution and Lebanon's independence, unity and territorial integrity.”
“The March 14 forces will remain, regardless of any disagreements, because their cause is related to Lebanon's fate. Nowadays we have three missions – electing a president, protecting Lebanon from the destruction that is surrounding us, and running public affairs in a manner that achieves welfare, reform and renaissance,” Saniora added.
Lamenting lack of progress in the probe into Shatah's murder, the ex-PM said: “Is it reasonable that the investigations in the case of Shatah and his comrades have not made any progress although the security agencies have made achievements in the fight against terrorist groups and the Israeli-linked spy cells?”
Shatah was killed in a bombing in downtown Beirut on December 27, 2013.
Hariri had noted in the wake of the blast that the assassins are the same ones who murdered his father, former PM Rafik Hariri, on February 14, 2005.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon tackling the 2005 murder has accused five Hizbullah members of being behind the crime.
Hizbullah has refused cooperation with the court and dismissed it as a U.S.-Israeli scheme aimed at tarnishing its image, vowing that the five accused will never be found.