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Aoun reaffirms Lebanese security and political stability

President Michel Aoun Tuesday assured high-ranking diplomats in Beirut that Lebanon was maintaining security and political stability.

In a speech to diplomats and other foreign envoys at an annual event held at the beginning of the New Year at Baabda Palace, Aoun reiterated that the parliamentary elections slated for this year would be held as scheduled. The ongoing controversy over various elements of the election plan has prompted concerns that the first elections for MPs since 2009 will again be postponed.

“There is no doubt that the accomplishment of an electoral law based on proportional representation, for the first time in the history of Lebanon, and after strenuous efforts, will ensure further political stability since it will allow a greater fairness of representation. In this context, I affirm my keenness on holding the parliamentary elections on time,” Aoun said.

At the beginning of his speech, Aoun thanked the countries that stood by Lebanon, saying that his country was overcoming its crises and was set to move toward a better future.

“The [Lebanese] government, which includes the main political parties, contributed to ensuring and securing stability. Despite some differences, disagreements remain within the scope of politics that enrich democratic life,” Aoun said.

Touching on the economic situation, he lamented the “decades … of waste of public funds and the absence of accountability,” which he said regardless of the motives had the same negative impact on the country. However, he said Lebanon was now “on the right track,” citing Parliament’s endorsement of the first state budget in over a decade.

“Over this year, our effort will be focused on economic issues in terms of planning and implementation.”

Aoun also underscored Lebanon’s continued security, despite the difficulties involved in preserving stability in the turbulent region. “We managed to achieve [security] and to prevent a transferal of the fire [surrounding us] to Lebanon. This is due to the determination of, and coordination between the different [security] agencies,” the president said.

Referring to Daesh (ISIS), the president went on to say: “As a matter of fact, Lebanon defeated the most criminal and brutal of all terrorist organizations.”

On Aug. 19, 2017, the Army launched the “Fajr al-Joroud” offensive to drive Daesh militants out of areas where they had entrenched on the Lebanese-Syrian border near Ras Baalbeck and Al-Qaa. The offensive against the militants was the largest full-scale military operation conducted by the Army against terrorist elements in the country in recent years.

Aoun also criticized the recent U.S. decision to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. “Choosing specifically Jerusalem … deepens the gap, drives peace away and fans the flames in the East.”

As the city of Beirut has been the center of discussions recently among lawmakers and officials, the president recalled the capital as “regaining its triumph.”

Touching on the refugee crisis, the president thanked Pope Francis for having a “complete understanding of the situation in Lebanon and his appreciation for the efforts exerted in the issue of the displaced.”

Aoun highlighted the pope’s calls for the international community to work on creating the necessary conditions for refugees’ return.

He said the Lebanese model was one of pluralism and diversity, therefore “preserving and protecting it is a necessity and a need to the world,” reiterating his previous calls for Lebanon to be a permanent center for dialogue between different civilizations, religions and races.

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