Lebanese Premier says " Lebanon is the winner in Doha"

Other News Materials 24 May 2008 04:55 (UTC +04:00)

Lebanonese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora and his outgoing cabinet convened for the last time late Friday, and discussed the latest developments and the outcome of the Lebanese dialogue hosted by the Qatari capital last week, the dpa reported.

Seniora who gave a speech during the meeting, said the Lebanese were "steps from the long-awaited moment" only 48 hours before the election of Army Commander General Michel Suleiman as president on Sunday.

"Today we meet for the last time, as a ministerial body, in order to pave the way to hand responsibility over to the House of Parliament and the President," Seniora said.

Seniora referred to depictions in the media that portrayed Hezbollah as winning the agreement because it effectively obtained a veto right on cabinet decisions. He noted that such debates aimed to destroy Lebanon. "The winner of our agreement in Doha is Lebanon, the future of Lebanon and the future of the Lebanese."

Lebanon has been without a president since Emile Lahoud stepped down last November, and Seniora's cabinet has been labeled "illegitimate" by the Lebanese opposition since six Hezbollah and Amal ministers resigned in November, 2006.

Shortly after Suleiman is elected the government of Seniora is to become the acting government until a new govenrment is formed.

"The government's sole concern was national interests and the interests of our citizens and Lebanese families in Lebanon and abroad, who are anxious to see peace and calm and live in dignity," Seniora said.

"We have chosen both to be faithful to [the Lebanese people], who gave us this responsibility through their representatives in parliament. We kept our promise and did not stray from the path of independence and defended our democratic system and institutions for the consolidation of civil peace and coexistence," the prime minister added.

Seniora said all Lebanese parties had made concessions for the sake of Lebanon. "We are committed to this agreement," he said.

The PM said that "hundreds of Arab and foreign investors" had begun preparations to reinvest in Lebanon, which he attributed to Lebanese "mutual concessions."

He also said this was the beginning of a "return of confidence" among the Lebanese and the start of expanding opportunities after the country had become accustomed to loss.

"In short, Lebanon is a country to live in, learn from, and belong to ... a country which respects the freedom and dignity of citizens and their choices and convictions ... a country convinced of its independence and sovereignty and that belongs to the Arab region," Seniora said.

Seniora recalled the Lebanese encounter with "terrorism and terrorists who tried to assassinate your ministers, and succeeded in assassinating the martyr Rafik Hariri(2005) and his peers."

Prime Minister Sieiora said two of Lebanon's biggest tasks were dealing with "terrorism and Israeli aggressions."

The premier was referring to Israel's 2006 onslaught on Lebanon and the Lebanese army battles in 2007 against a sunni fundamentalist group called Fatah al-Islam in the refugee camp of Nahr al Bared in northern Lebanon.