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French Version

Nasrallah tells followers to prepare for street protests

Hizbullah chief dismisses cabinet as tool of washington

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called on his allies to stand ready for a peaceful demonstration to demand a national unity government to replace the current "unconstitutional" Cabinet. "We all [the opposition] have to be ready, even on the psychological level, to take to the streets.

We might be calling for you 24 hours beforehand, or 12 hours beforehand, or at any time," Nasrallah told hundreds of supporters during a pre-recorded event aired Sunday by Al-Manar television station.

Yet Hizbullah will not call for demonstrations without consulting with its allies, he added.

"Any step taken toward a demonstration will be discussed and agreed upon between all opposition powers," he said.

Nasrallah was harshly critical of the current government, describing it as "unconstitutional and illegitimate."

"It is the government of [US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey] Feltman, not that of Premier Fouad Siniora," Nasrallah said, adding that it was not representative of all the political powers in the country.

"We believe that this Cabinet cannot be entrusted with the country's decision-making, because they follow the orders of the US administration ... and we have proof of that."

Nasrallah offered two solutions to the country's ongoing crisis: the formation of a national unity government or early parliamentary elections.

"They [the current administration] say they have the majority. Then let them prove it on the ground through early elections," he added defiantly.

Nasrallah then lashed out at the March 14 Forces, dismissing accusations that Hizbullah is trying to place Lebanon under Syria's tutelage once again.

"This is not true," he said, "but if we assume it is ... we accuse them of following the orders and mandate of the United States, and others.

"If we have a true national unity government ... then each party will block the mandate imposed on the other party, and thus the decisions made will be Lebanese," he argued.

Nasrallah sought to assuage fears that his party was merely seeking political gains.

"We are not even asking to increase our number of seats in the Cabinet. All we are asking for is the participation of other parties ... If we find that there are no more seats, then Hizbullah will withdraw its ministers in favor of others."

Nasrallah described as "foolishness" claims that Hizbullah is trying to block the project of the international tribunal that would try the assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"We received the draft on Friday. We needed to translate it and send it to our legal experts, then discuss it. All we wanted was some time, but they didn't give us any and assigned a session to approve the draft on Monday."

As for the demonstrations, Nasrallah warned that some members of March 14 might send infiltrators "to cause riots."

"But it is our work to spot and stop them," he said.

"When those who are in the authority demonstrated in the streets against the Cabinet of former Premier Omar Karami ... they were not shot at," he said.

"Yet, this current authority shot at people and their supporters and hit them. If that is freedom, sovereignty and independence then we don't want it and we welcome [Syrian support]," Nasrallah said.

He said that Hizbullah and the opposition "will not respond to the other side's provocation. Clashes and sedition are something we don't approve of."

"We will be demonstrating peacefully and in abidance to the law and the Constitution."

"Some people within March 14 Forces are trying to hide behind the Sunni sect to be stronger. They are trying to make the Sunni sect fight their [war]. This is dangerous ... The Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, must not allow politics to take them to a religious or sectarian fight ... All will lose."

Beirut 20-11-2006
Leila Hatoum
The Daily Star

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