'March 14 Forces embrace culture of life, which can defend Lebanon'
11 May 2009 04:21 am

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora reiterated Sunday that the March 14 Forces embraced the "culture of life, which can defend Lebanon and its Arabism, rather than the culture of death meant to destroy Lebanon."

"The March 14 Forces are always looking ahead and want the [June 7] polls to be held in a democratic and healthy atmosphere," Siniora told supporters during an electoral rally in the coastal city of Sidon.

He reiterated that as of June 8 everyone has to work together, even if they had different points of view. "This is a country that accepts the other," he said.

On Saturday, Siniora said the March 14 Forces were working on rebuilding the country and the economy. "Our agenda is to build and construct, while others have a program to obstruct. Our policy is to negotiate; theirs is to deter."

He added that the cabinets he headed had achieved "the highest rate of growth in Lebanon's history to an extent that it lowered the country's debt.

"Taxes are going to the state treasury to be spent on people's needs. However, [financial] kickbacks are going to militias," Siniora said.

Democratic Gathering MP Marwan Hamadeh revealed on Sunday that the March 14 Forces were to hold a large-scale meeting "in the near future to discuss the electoral battle."

Meanwhile, elections flurry heightened over the weekend with political parties holding last-minute meetings to finalize electoral tickets or to clear up misunderstandings.

The three opposition leaders, Hizbullah's Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Speaker Nabih Berri and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, held late night talks on Friday.

A Hizbullah statement said talks revolved around the June 7 polls in general, and the polls in the mainly Christian southern of Jezzine in particular.

Berri and Aoun stressed that polls in Jezzine would be held in a "civilized manner" although the speaker and the FPM leader will have two separate lists running against each other. Aoun refused to include current Jezzine MP and member of Berri's Development and Liberation Parliamentary bloc Samir Azar on the FPM's ticket in Jezzine.

"The two sides stressed that these elections will not influence their comprehensive electoral alliance in other districts and vowed to make efforts with allies to increase participation and full voting for opposition lists," the statement added.

Berri and Aoun also said election results in Jezzine would not affect the unity of their parties.

The two agreed to form two separate and closed lists and promised to engage in a "civilized and democratic" electoral battle in Jezzine.

Aoun on Saturday also announced the FPM's ticket in Baabda, which includes Ali Ammar and Bilal Farhat for the Shiite seats, Naji Gharios for the Orthodox seat, Fadi al-Aawar for the Druze seat, Alain Aoun and Hikmat Dib for the Maronite seats.

On Sunday, MP Misbah Ahdab launched his electoral platform entitled "The Lebanese Number" during a rally in Tripoli

"Today I declare that Tripoli will not make concessions nor will it kneel, forget or obey orders," he said. Ahdab lashed out at the opposition and accused them of "fabricating lies."

"The concept of the obstructing third and the third republic are only lies and tricks that intend to frustrate Lebanon and its constitutional institutions, and pave the way for the establishment of the Wilayat al-Faqih," he said, in reference to the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah.

"We, along with the residents of Tripoli, will fiercely defend the Special Tribunal for Lebanon," Ahdab continued.

"I am still, and will always, follow the steps of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and I did not wait for any return," he said

"We have stood side by side with [Future Movement leader MP] Saad Hariri and all the honest people within the March 14 Forces," Ahdab added.

Ahdab was excluded from the "Tripoli Solidarity List," which is an alliance between the Future Movement with former Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Economy and Trade Minister Mohammad Safadi.

Also on Sunday, Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya called on its partisans to commit to agreement with Hariri regarding the electoral alliances in Beirut and Sidon.

Hariri had discussed the upcoming Spring polls with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea during a meeting in the latter's residence in Maarab Friday evening.

In other elections-related news, former MP Fares Boueiz announced Saturday that he would not refrain from running in the elections and thanked those who helped him "avoid entering the cage of chicks," in reference to the Free Patriotic Movement list in Kesrouan.

"We thank those who helped us avoid entering the cage of chicks and engage in a blind commitment," Boueiz told a news conference at his residence in Zouk.

Boueiz said that Aoun promised him "six times" that he would be included in the list. Boueiz added that he was later surprised to hear he hadn't been included in the Kesrouan ticket.

However, Boueiz promised that the list of "Independent Coalition Forces," in which he would be a member, would be announced in the next few days.

He did not dismiss the possibility the list might include March 14 Forces candidates in addition to independent candidates.

Meanwhile, MP Michel Murr said the Lebanese "will thwart all attempts to change the regime in Lebanon."

"We won't allow the regime to fall, government to be hindered, we won't accept any arms other than the army's, we won't accept a diminished presidency and we won't accept Bkirki and the clergy to be slandered," Murr said during a meeting with clerics from the Syriac Orthodox sect on Saturday.

"The electoral battle is between those that want to save Lebanon and those that wish to destroy it," Murr said.

"We are waging the battle for saving Lebanon today; don't let the blood of martyrs go to waste and let's keep Lebanon a homeland for all its citizens," he added.

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