Aoun ‘Congratulates’ Geagea, Gemayel, al-Rahi on Orthodox Law Approval, Says May Create ‘New Realities

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Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday said “new realities” might emerge concerning ties with his Christian rivals, after they contributed to the joint parliamentary committees’ approval of the controversial draft electoral law proposed by the Orthodox Gathering.

“Today is the brightest day in Lebanon’s history because rights were returned to their owners without encroaching on the rights of others. The value of the votes of marginalized groups has been restored, that’s why we’re happy with this achievement,” Aoun told reporters after the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform in Rabiyeh.

“This law will restore parity and true democracy and will not lead to a conflict among sects. Those who have got used to encroaching on the rights of others are describing others as violators. We are willing to continue to build Lebanon together, but according to a reformist orientation and equal rights, not according to a provocative approach,” Aoun added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the FPM’s mouthpiece OTV reported that Aoun telephoned Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Phalange Party chief Amin Gemayel and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to “exchange congratulations on the approval of the Orthodox Gathering proposal.”

Asked by reporters about his phone talks, Aoun said: “I thanked them for their role in securing the success of this law which might create new realities.”

“Those affected by the Orthodox Gathering law are speaking as if the LF and the Phalange Party are their followers. This is politics and alliances change. They might lose some seats to us and they don’t want us in power and that feverish wish is driving them crazy,” Aoun said, referring to al-Mustaqbal movement, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat and independent Christian MPs, who have rejected the Orthodox Gathering proposal and walked out of Tuesday’s session.

“They are insisting that the Orthodox Gathering proposal will not pass, but why will things be different than they were today? Walkouts will entail great responsibilities that no one can bear,” he added.

Asked whether the June parliamentary elections will be postponed, Aoun said: “Those who have been insisting on approving a new electoral law will insist that the elections be held on time.”

Turning to the issue of the alleged military intervention by Hizbullah in the Syrian conflict, Aoun said: “There is an incident that happened in Syria and the truth is that there are Lebanese people who live in 12 towns on the border with Syria and you will always have problems on borders. Hizbullah is not fighting the terrorist and fundamentalist organizations, but it is normal that they are helping their neighbors and relatives.”

Three Lebanese Shiites have been killed in fighting in Syria, a Hizbullah official speaking on condition of anonymity said Sunday, as the Syrian opposition accused the Lebanese group of intervening on the side of the regime.

He said they were acting in “self-defense,” without specifying if they were Hizbullah members. The Shiite party occasionally announces the death of one of its fighters killed “carrying out his jihadist duty,” but without clarification.

In October 2012, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that party members had fought Syrian rebels, but said they were acting as individuals and not under the party’s direction.

Nasrallah clarified that the Hizbullah fighters were killed while defending Lebanese-inhabited border towns inside Syria.

Asked about his contorversial remarks on the situation in Bahrain, Aoun said: “My remarks cannot be considered a foreign interference in Bahrain’s affairs, as I only voiced support for human rights in Bahrain and said that the protest movement must be taken into consideration after three years from its launch. I did not call for arming anyone or for a rebellion.”

“There is a systematic campaign to expel the Lebanese from Gulf countries and from Bahrain and my remarks do not contain an interference, but rather an advice,” he added.

 

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