Former Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said that the roots of Lebanon’s crises can be traced to differences over how to govern the country.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that the country was split between supporters of the Saudi-sponsored Taef Accord and others who advocate the use of force.
“Developing Lebanon’ system of rule cannot take place under the threat of arms,” he stressed.
Moreover, he said Lebanon “should not be bound to foreign powers or weapons that are imposed on the people.”
Saniora had declared an initiative on coexistence, the constitution and national salvation based on the implementation of the Taef Accord.
The accord, he explained, helps shape Lebanon, but has not been given the opportunity to be properly implemented.
The agreement was reached in 1989 to end the 1975-90 civil war.
On the other end of the divide, continued Saniora, are forces that are turning to sides beyond the “real national pact and who are relying on foreign and local balances of power. These powers rely on the use of force that cannot be tolerated in Lebanon.”
He added that Lebanon is suffering from political predicaments and differences over concepts, prompting calls to develop its system of rule.
“Lebanon is built on the power of balance, not the balance of powers,” he declared, urging the need to return to the Taef Accord that would “fairly appease all sides.”
Furthermore, he warned that the most dangerous factor of the crisis is the main political forces’ inability to take the initiative to detail a plan to save the country. They are instead too preoccupied with saving themselves and are awaiting regional developments to make their next move, he lamented.
To break the impasse, Saniora urged the return to the Taef Accord, rejecting claims that the deal was only a product of its time and need to end the civil war.
On the contrary, he said, the accord was a “historic and realistic settlement that struck right balances and rectified wrong behaviors that had marred Lebanon for a century.”
He stressed that the accord boasts the elements that make it strategically sustainable.
The former PM explained that his initiative does not discriminate between parties and sects, but emphasizes sides that have expressed their determination to come together. The initiative is not aimed against political parties, but seeks to end the impasse.
He urged the need for national Lebanese efforts that can pull the country out of its crisis, saying the people should be empowered to restore authority to the state, determine their future and steer clear of regional conflicts.
Moreover, Saniora told Asharq Al-Awsat that the successive crises in Lebanon over the years are not the result of a failed political system as some claim. Rather, the crises are a result of political administrations that have not been up to the task of implementing the Taef Accord.
After the accord was signed, the implementation of constitutional reform was tasked to the Syrian regime, which acted in Lebanon to serve its own interests, he charged.
The regime had an interest in “putting out some fires, while stoking others” so that it could maintain its hegemony over Lebanon, he stated, wondering how a “dictatorship could be entrusted with managing a democracy.”
He said that sectarian parties were also to blame for the dire state of affairs. He remarked that the parties highlighted “common fears instead of coexistence, so instead of each party working with each other, they became suspicious of each other.”