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Suleiman: Lebanon Facing Challenges Because of Upheavals in the Arab World

Suleiman: Lebanon Facing Challenges Because of Upheavals in the Arab World
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Lebanese President Michel Suleiman warned Thursday that Lebanon is facing difficulties and challenges as a result of the current popular upheavals sweeping across the Arab world. He renewed his call on Lebanese factions for national dialogue which, he said, is the only way for the country's salvation. Suleiman delivered a speech which was aired live via TV stations.

At an iftar banquet he hosted at Baabda Palace on the occasion of the fasting month of Ramadan, the President said "Looming on the horizon are difficulties and challenges for which the country cannot surrender, nor leave the means to overcome them to what the volatile balance of power could lead to," he said in his speech.

"In plain words, the developments in our Arab world and their potential repercussions on Lebanon, should they turn to further violence and fragmentation; the controversy accompanying the course of the STL, and what it might entail; and attempts to enflame fanaticism and sow, in our midst and around us, seeds of strife, all raise deep concerns among the citizens as to their security and safety and cause economic and social shrinkage," he noted.

"We are thus called upon to be fully aware of the gravity of this period and to ward off the dangers threatening the country and its civil peace," Suleiman added. He stressed that there is no alternative to dialogue to save the country.
In his speech, Suleiman said "Calling for dialogue does not aim to improve one party's conditions against another party, neither to give the upper hand to one logic over the other. It rather seeks the means to resolve outstanding controversial issues and explore potential solutions for future problems before the latter build up and exacerbate."

He said despite the difficulties facing the dialogue, he will pursue his efforts to ensure the elements of its success.

"I have considered that engaging in dialogue is an act of national free will and faith, and not a negotiation process," Suleiman said, adding "Therefore, no matter the difficulties that face the process of refining the appropriate frameworks to re-launch the national dialogue I am striving for, I still see no alternative to it and no salvation without it."

He said Lebanon should adapt to the possible positive repercussions of the current developments in the Arab world. "And if indeed the Arab countries advance toward democracy, officials, intellectuals and public opinion leaders will have to re-examine Lebanon's position and role in this field and study means to improve its democracy consecrated by the Lebanese Constitution since 1926, a democracy that has since that time been marred by some bad practice and poor performance," Suleiman said.

In order to improve our democracy, Suleiman explained that "we will have to agree on a new electoral law that would best embody people's opinion, equilibriums and aspirations." He noted that "This law should also take into account rules that guarantee equal power sharing and coexistence among the Lebanese while ensuring the right political representation of the various categories of the population along with its effectiveness."