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French Version

Public voices cautious optimism after Doha deal

After a formal agreement was reached in Doha on Wednesday among rival Lebanese leaders, Lebanese citizens in the Beirut neighborhood of Gemmayzeh voiced cautious optimism about the future. "It's good. I didn't think they were going to come to an agreement. Today is great. However, I don't know about tomorrow," said Tony Eliah.

Some Lebanese expressed their view that the situation has long been unpredictable, and is likely to remain so after the deal.

"This is normal for Lebanon," said Mohammad al-Baba, who saw the sudden turn of the crisis and the announcement of an agreement as "business as usual."

"When I was born, it was a similar situation," he added. "Many people still don't have jobs. Maybe there will be a problem in one year."

Others, such as Paula Sabbagh, were simply surprised that an agreement had been reached. "The night before each group stuck to their opinion and they didn't want to compromise. But in 24 hours, they agreed," she said. "We don't want more blood and victims and I hope this [process of reconciliation] will continue and the politicians aren't lying."

Maysaloun Nassar said the news of a deal was a welcome reprieve from the situation of the past few months, but voiced doubts that the situation would remain stable. "This is a good break for Lebanese to take a breath and prepare for the next phase, because this is Lebanon and we have to prepare for the next phase," she said. "Until fighting ends abroad we'll have problems here in Lebanon."

Some, such as Razan Khoder, voiced frustration with the two rival camps. "They didn't have to go to Doha. If they had come to this agreement earlier, 69 people would still be alive," Khoder said, referring to the people who were killed in last week's clashes between opposition and pro-government gunmen. At least 65 people were killed during the clashes and scores more wounded.

"Who will compensate their parents?" she asked.

"They said mabrouk," she said, using the Arabic word for congratulations, which were offered to the Lebanese when the accord was announced in Doha. "But mabrouk for what? Sixty-nine people are dead."

Elie Zouein, on the other hand, also voiced dissatisfaction but welcomed the agreement as a good first step. "For me, the Christians could have been represented in the government more," he said.

"Though the agreement isn't perfect, it's good for the beginning and good that they went outside and stayed together until they came to a conclusion," he added.

Others were openly overjoyed with the news.

"The people are happy because politicians made a new contract and it was very wise," said Jaber, a man in his 40s, who wouldn't reveal his last name.

"I think the future will be good for Lebanon," he added.

Kamal Antar agreed: "Taking them to Qatar was the best thing for them to do. It's a good step in the right direction."

Maroun Abdallah said he simply hoped for the best: "Though we're worried we could have another war, we pray that this agreement lasts."

Beirut 22-05-2008
The Daily Star

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