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French Version

Most local politicians congratulate Obama on historic election

Geagea: 'The March 8 candidate won'

Lebanese politicians from both camps reacted on Wednesday to the election of Barack Obama as the president of the United States, with most leaders welcoming the results of the US polls. However, minutes before entering the conference room where the national dialogue session was taking place at the Baabda Palace, Lebanese Forces boss Samir Geagea said that "the March 8 Forces' candidate" had won the US vote.

"The March 8 Forces' candidate won the US election," he told reporters when asked his opinion on the election results.

Geagea, a member of the governing March 14 coalition, had earlier this year criticized Obama's proposed policy of holding direct talks with states perceived as America's enemies, such as Syria and Iran. The LF boss said in an interview in March that "nothing can come out of dialogue" with Damascus.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was also asked on Wednesday to comment on the outcome of the US vote, and the premier told reporters in Baabda that the election results were "good."

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the American people were trying to move beyond past actions by electing Obama president.

The speaker added that the election had demonstrated that the United States was "a wonderful democracy."

He also urged the newly elected president to make "the right decisions" with regard to Middle East policy.

"The new president should start off by resolving the Middle East crisis and removing the injustice the people of the Middle East region have suffered, especially the Palestinians," Berri said.

Also on Wednesday, Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri sent a letter of congratulations to the president-elect.

"I would like to congratulate you on the historic achievement of the American people manifested in electing you as the 44th president of the United States of America," Hariri's letter to Obama said.

"The people of the world who look forward to peace and security will find in you a partner to help them achieve their dreams in a life free from poverty and fear," he added.

Meanwhile, Hizbullah's international relations officer, Nawwaf Moussawi, said the identity of the elected US president, "does not really matter, because change will definitely take place."

"Change in US policies will unquestionably happen," Moussawi said during a dinner for Hizbullah's students committee on Tuesday evening.

"It was the victory of the Lebanese resistance in the summer 2006 that heralded that change," he added.

For his part, Minister of State Jean Hogasapian said Obama's commitment, as expressed during his campaign, to the Lebanese who had struggled for democracy "reflected a continuation of the principles of President George W. Bush."

"These principles," Ogasapian said in a statement on Wednesday, "led him to support Lebanon's independence, and the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions."

Beirut 06-11-2008
The Daily Star

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