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French Version

Demonstrators in Chouf and Bsharri declare 'unshaken' support for Siniora

Two large pro-government rallies were held Sunday to express "unshaken" support for Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his government. "We will not allow anyone to obstruct our economy and our government," Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan told thousands of government supporters in Deir al-Qamar.

In response to the ongoing opposition protest in Downtown Beirut launched on December 1, regular pro-government rallies have been held across the country to express support for Siniora's government.

"[The opposition forces] say that we don't want to participate [in dialogue], but we say that we do want to and invite you to join us in making decisions together over the fate of Lebanon," Adwan said, his words echoed by his party colleague, MP Elie Kayrouz, at a separate rally in the Lebanese Forces stronghold of Bsharri in the North.

Thousands of flag-waving supporters hit the streets in Bsharri and the Chouf to defy what the prime minister has labeled an "attempted coup" by the Hizbullah-led opposition.

"You can't hide anymore behind bombs or delays or demonstrations, so get ready for the international tribunal that will try the murderers who shed blood in Lebanon," Adwan said.

The crowds, made up mainly of supporters of the LF, the Progressive Socialist Party and the National Liberal Party, raised placards reading "no arms except army arms" and "one united Lebanon" as they voiced their backing for Siniora and his Cabinet, many of whom have been holed up in the Serail since the opposition protest began.

Representing late Premier Rafik Hariri's Future Movement, former MP Ghattas Khoury told the crowd at Deir al-Qamar: "This government is our government. It is a government of unity and from and with all Lebanese ... Siniora received a majority vote, and that needs to be respected."

Sharif Fayad, representing PSP leader MP Walid Jumblatt, called for the resumption of national talks grouping all parties.

"We need to enter into dialogue with an open mind for the sake of protecting Lebanon,

preserving its national unity and reaching an understanding on the important issues," he said, speaking in the Chouf.

"Lebanese in the North, Bekaa, Mount Lebanon and the oppressed people in the South made their choice and expressed their confidence in the government by electing it after ousting the [Syrian] tutelage over the country," Fayad said.

The organizers of Sunday's demonstrations distributed a list of seven "commitments," which included support for the "legitimate" government, an international tribunal, the sole right of the Lebanese Army to arms, international resolutions, the decisions made during the national dialogue, Parliament and the Constitution.

However, some of the speakers at the demonstration took a harsher tone, casting the ongoing demonstration in Beirut as camouflage for a personal power grab.

"What we can conclude from [the opposition] speeches is that they are really after power and want to throw Lebanon back into the age of darkness and foreign tutelage," National Liberal Party leader Dory Chamoun said. "I ask all the supporters of the various leaders to ask their leaders, for once, 'where are we really heading?'"

"The demonstrations are paralyzing the country and are hurting the future of Lebanon and its future generations," Chamoun said.

Beirut 18-12-2006
The Daily Star

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