Amine Gemayel – former President of Lebanon

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The Lebanese elections will be held in early June 2009. Many people feel lack of clarity concerning the lists of electoral candidates and the selection of candidates. In an interview with him, Amine Gemayel refused to describe the current stage as vague. He said that the 14 March alliance represents a complete commitment to the major options of sovereignty and independence of Lebanon. He refuted allegations that there is a conflict between the parties. He added that he had no objection to the rise of independent or centrist blocks.

Q: What are the reasons for so much vagueness that preceded the formation of the electoral lists of candidates of the March 14 forces?

A: It is logical for the formation of the lists of electoral candidates to be preceded by a stage of discussion and negotiation among the forces that form 14 March alliance. These discussions revolve around selection of candidates and formation of the lists. It is not right to describe such a stage as vague. Discussions are publicly made. We acknowledge that the formation process is not an easy job and there are always collateral difficulties for countless reasons and these difficulties need to be surmounted. Anyway, the date of elections is still a long way ahead and we still have plenty of time before announcing the list of electoral candidates.

Q: Are 14 March forces unified or is there any struggle between them for gains or influence? If firmly unified, why did Representative, Waleed Jumblat say that he unwillingly accepted candidates' names?

A: We should not forget that 14 March are an extensive alliance including parties and independent personalities. We would be making a mistake if we were to think of such an alliance as a single political organization. In this case, cohesiveness of its parties would be relative. Most importantly, this alliance represents a complete commitment to the major options related to sovereignty, independence and the project of complete sovereignty of Lebanon over all its lands as well as its residents. The alliance stresses that legitimacy is the only weapon in the hands of the Lebanese army and it is only within its confines that the decision of war or peace can be made.   Those who talk about a conflict between parties of 14 March for gains and influence are exaggerating. If they have doubts, why don't they consider mutual concessions that have to be made for the sake of the completion of the lists of electoral candidates?  In fact, these concessions are not limited to the one made by Representative Waleed Jumblat. We also made similar difficult concessions. Our alliance imposes certain obligations upon us.  

Q: How do you think of the power of your opponent, General Michael Aoun? Do you have an alternative discourse that would persuade Christian voters with your project and alienate them from Aoun?

A: I am not the person to evaluate General Aoun's potentials. This matter is up to the voters to decide and for this purpose, elections are held. In my opinion, there is no hostility between Aoun and us. It is just a difference of opinion concerning the national cause. That cause can not stand any delay with regard to the renaissance of a state which has sovereignty over all its lands. In this regard, our discourse addressed to Christians and all the Lebanese is clear and direct. It may be the best discourse to express Christians' opinion because they have historically called for a sovereignty that enables the country to be responsible for their presence, security and freedom not under protection of any other side, whether internal or external.

Q: To what extent do you hope for the success of the Independent or the Centrist Block? What is the role they would play if they were to win a considerable number of seats?

A: In principle, we have no objections to the rise of an independent or a centrist block. In any election, there is always a segment of voters who take their time before making their choice or prefer to vote for a centrist block. Therefore, those voters should be given the chance to express their opinion as long as elections are meant in the first place to express public opinion, including all segments of Lebanese people. The law of elections plays a vital role in this regard and it would be necessary later to reconsider such a matter whether for the purpose of dividing constituencies or for choosing between the absolute majority and the proportionate representation system or combining between them as stated in the project prepared by the National Authority of Parliamentary Electoral Law.

Q: Would the tensions between General Michael Aoun and Nabeeh Berri President of the Lebanese Parliament in 8 March forces escalate the situation and lead to separation? To what extent would this influence the relationship between Berri and Waleed Jumblat, Leader of Progressive Socialist Party. 

A: First of all, I hope that there will be no clashes in any parties. Tensions between Aoun and Berri do not concern me as long as they enhance the level of internal stability and do not impact good relations between Nabeeh Berri and Waleed Jumblat.

Q: To what extent would you hope for the stability of the current internal alliances within 14 March on the one hand and 8 March on the other?

A: Let's agree that differences around main options lead to the rise of such alliances. These options include national sovereignty and the state's borders and decisions of war and peace which are solely a state's affair, let alone deployment of weapons, rule of the law and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and other options. We hope that these differences will not be everlasting but we hope they will be curtailed by dialog and diplomacy. Seeking a decision from the public opinion through these elections is the best way to eliminate such differences. 

Q: What do you think Na'eem Kasem, Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah intended to imply when he said that after-election alliances would be different from the previous ones? Did he indirectly suggest any coming transitions?

A: Perhaps his wishes are similar to ours. Or he might be promising us with a change in Hezbollah's stances on the aforementioned options. He is fully aware that sovereignty of Lebanon is integral. He also knows that there is no alternative to the state and the rule of law and realizes that decisions of war and peace are solely state affairs. It is not reasonable that the country should continue to be governed forever in a way that contradicts the constitution and legislative conventions.

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