Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lebanon: Lebanese parties must put national interests first

UNIFIL and Lebanese troops conduct joint live fire exercise

UN - Voicing concern about the recent escalation in political tensions in Lebanon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all parties to focus on strengthening the country’s sovereignty and security and on resolving outstanding issues such as the presence of armed militias.

“Lebanon is currently experiencing a domestic climate of uncertainty and fragility,” Mr. Ban writes in his 12th semi-annual report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559.

Adopted in 2004 amid concern about high tensions within Lebanon, the resolution calls for free and fair elections, an end to foreign interference and the disbanding of all militias.

“It is therefore imperative that the spirit of entente and respect for the principles of security prevail. The country’s political leaders must focus on strengthening its sovereignty and independence as well as its institutions,” states the Secretary-General.

“I urge all political leaders to transcend sectarian and individual interests and to genuinely promote the future and the interests of the nation.”

Mr. Ban says that more needs to be done to fully implement the resolution, citing the presence of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, as well as a “worrisome pattern” of armed incidents that continue to pose a threat to the stability of the country and the region.

“I remain keenly aware that the combination of mistrust among the parties and the continued presence of militias could lead to tensions and possible insecurity and instability in Lebanon and beyond,” he says. “The country should not be used as a staging ground for furthering regional aspirations or promoting conflict.”

He states that Hizbollah’s “significant military arsenal creates an atmosphere of intimidation and poses a key challenge to the safety of Lebanese civilians and to the Government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force,” and calls on the group’s leaders to transform it into a solely Lebanese political party and to disarm.

The best guarantee that calm will be maintained and dialogue promoted in the country is the functioning of the Government of national unity, writes the Secretary-General. The National Dialogue, chaired by President Michel Sleiman and which brings together the country’s main political leaders, remains an important tool towards this goal, he adds.

“I emphasize that the main goal of the Dialogue should clearly be to bring all arms in Lebanon under the sole control of the Government. I urge the participants in the National Dialogue to demonstrate seriousness in addressing these critical questions of sovereignty and national defence.”

Mr. Ban notes that recent security incidents highlight the need for Lebanese security forces to do more to prevent and respond to acts of violence, and for the Government and all relevant political leaders to make clear that such acts will not be tolerated.

“While the Lebanese security forces are careful not to inflame sectarian tensions by appearing to take sides in armed clashes, they clearly have a duty to enforce Lebanese law and to protect Lebanon’s civilian population from harm.”

Deploring the continued Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Secretary-General calls on Israel to adhere to its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions and withdraw from the northern part of the village of Ghajar and cease its overflights of Lebanese airspace.