Unity call from new Lebanon president
May 26, 2008 by babs22
After being sworn in, the country’s new president, Michel Sleiman, has called for unity in Lebanon.
On Sunday, the ex-army chief was elected president in a parliamentary session attended by foreign dignitaries, including Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar. He helped broker a deal to end a dispute between rival factons.
“Let us unite … and work towards a solid reconciliation” said Michel Sleiman, in his inaugural speech.
“I call upon all of you, politicians and citizens, to start a new phase called Lebanon and the Lebanese … in order to achieve the interests of the nation.”
“On this path to salvation, some valiant resistance and some courageous soldiers also offered their lives in order to defeat terrorism, Israeli aggression from south Lebanon to its north” he said.
“The achievements of the resistance should not be exploited in internal disputes.”
Crowds of people waving Lebanese flags, fireworks explosed and motorists hooted their horns in Beirut and in Amsheet, Sleiman’s hometown, in order to celebrate his inauguration.
“There is a feeling of euphoria and celebration among most of the people” said James Bays, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Lebanon. “There is a really high sense of expectation for this new president.”
“Everyone from whatever background, from whatever political persuasion, whatever religious group has great expectations for this man. It might be hard for him to live up to them” he said.
On the 127-member of parliament voting, 118 voted in favour of Sleiman becoming Lebanon president. Six of the ballots cast were blank, which signifies a protest vote or reservations, over Sleiman’s election.
A new area
After the election, Al-Thani addressed the Lebanese parliament and said that Sleiman’s election was part of a process towards a lasting peace in the country.
“The Lebanese [leadership], with its variety and diversity, acknowledged that there is no alternative but to reach an entente that will safeguard Lebanon’s security and interests” he said.
all Arab nations will feel reassured that the dearest countries will be able to embark on a new era, based on freedom.
“Lebanon is the victor, Lebanon’s crisis is the vanquished.”
But Rula Amin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut, said many Lebanese intellectuals told him that they would have preferred a civilian candidate. But many observers believe that the selection of Sleiman was crucial to end the country’s political crisis.
“It seems that for now both parties, both alliances have come to an agreement.”, said Rula Amin.
“The question on many people’s mind is that is this a final settlement or just a truce?“
“There are still many issues that need to be resolved. For this moment in Lebanon’s history he is the best, fittest person to take the job.”