|Date: Sep 8, 2020|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Geagea says ready for new ruling formula conference|
BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Sunday his party was ready to discuss a new constituent conference designed to establish a new ruling formula to replace the country’s decades-old sectarian-based governing system.
“I want to say to some who are proposing to us a new social contract, and sometimes a constituent conference, that we are always ready, but not to serve their desires. If they wanted a new constituent conference, they are welcome. But let them know that the main pillar of it will be enlarged decentralization,” Geagea said in a speech, addressing the party’s annual rally commemorating LF militiamen who were killed during the1975-90 Civil War. The rally was held at the LF headquarters in Maarab, north of Beirut.
Geagea was apparently responding to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s speech a few years ago in which he called for a constituent conference to agree on a new ruling system after some politicians had criticized the 1989 Taif Accord, which ended the Civil War and stipulated equal power-sharing between Muslims and Christians. In a televised speech last week, Nasrallah said he was open to French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a new political contract in Lebanon but insisted that that it must be “with the will and consent of the various Lebanese factions.”
Geagea called for the implementation of all provisions of the Taif Accord which, he said, called, among other things, for the dissolution of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and the surrender of their arms to the Lebanese state within six months, to be followed by the election of a new president, the formation of a national reconciliation government and the endorsement of political reforms.
The LF leader implicitly responded to calls made this week by President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for a civil or secular state in Lebanon to replace the confessional system, which was blamed by the majority of the Lebanese, as well as political rivals, for the current economic meltdown and endemic corruption, as well as the country’s instability.
“There has been increased talk recently about a civil state at a time when we are living in a civil state, except for the personal status and the distribution of state posts among the Lebanese communities according to the Taif Accord,” he said.
Declaring that he does not trust the current authorities, Geagea renewed his call for a “transparent and credible international” investigation into the Aug. 4 deadly explosion that struck Beirut Port, damaging half of the capital, killing at least 190 people, injuring 6,500 and displacing about 300,000 people.
Geagea, a harsh critic of Hezbollah’s policies, accused the Iran-backed party of infringing on the Lebanese state’s Constitution, authority, sovereignty, institutions and decision-making.
“There is no hope for change, and no real reforms and no useful elections if the state’s decision-making and authority are not liberated and if the state’s arms are not the sole arms,” he said. Geagea called on Hezbollah to take “a difficult decision” by putting itself at the service of Lebanon and its people and security instead of serving Iran and its interests.