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» 06/18/2005
Christians and Muslims together to build the future Lebanon, says Sethrida Geagea:
by Youssef Hourany
Interview with Samir Geagea's wife who is running in this Sunday's fourth and last round of elections for a seat in northern Lebanon, where voters are almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – For Sethrida  Geagea, wife of the commander of the Lebanese Forces militia in jail for the past 11 years, Christian-Muslim cooperation in building the future of Lebanon is behind her decision to run for a seat in northern Lebanon. She told AsiaNews that this was the reason why she decided to form a joint list with Saad Hariri, the Kornet Chehwane group and Walid Jumblatt.

With the country getting ready for Sunday's crucial fourth round of elections, the importance of the ballot cannot be underestimated; both the National Unity-March14 and the Aoun–Frangieh lists are quite aware of that and are running full steam to convince people to vote for them.

The outcome remains uncertain though and the battle is still fierce with surveys contradicting each other in a region where Muslims, mostly Sunnis, represent 55 per cent of the population and Christians, largely Maronite and Greek Orthodox, are the other 45 per cent.

In this part of the country, turnout is expected to be high—in 2000 it was around 40 per cent.

"There is a15-year age gap between myself and my husband and I never thought that my future would have been in politics with me carrying his banner, even if only temporarily, until his release from prison," Sethrida Samir Geagea told AsiaNews.

"I knew that perhaps it might have been necessary for me to die with him. Death would have been sweeter than these, long suffering 11 years. These years were very difficult. For four years I could only see my husband behind a glass panel. And I would hear hurtful things said when I went to see him," she said.

"Four and a half years after Samir's incarceration, we ran for the first time in our history in the municipal elections and had a great success. This cost me a summon by the Military Tribunal on grounds that I was involved in alleged attacks in Syria and Lebanon," she explained.

"For 11 years, the release of Samir Geagea was the centre of our struggle. He paid for his commitment to the Taif Agreement and national reconciliation. Everything started going downhill in 1994 when he was arrested and the Lebanese Forces were disbanded."

If she is elected, Ms Geagea would be the Lebanese Forces' third member of the National Assembly after many years of struggle.

"We are in June 2005 and the Syrian army is gone. It is a crucial moment and we have to work together with others in this founding process. We know we cannot currently do it alone and must reach out to our Muslim partners; hence, our alliance. With the end of Syria's "protection", we have entered a new phase and the situation has changed," she noted.

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See also
06/08/2005 LEBANON
Divisions and tensions on the eve of the elections on Mount Lebanon and in the Bekaa
by Youssef Hourany
10/31/2005 LEBANON
Lebanon looks to Patriarch Sfeir during rough patch
by Youssef Hourany
05/02/2005 LEBANON
Patriarch Sfeir criticises Syrian-inspired electoral law
05/09/2005 LEBANON
There are evil forces at work in Lebanon, but they won't stop us, says Card Sfeir
04/11/2005 LEBANON
Gen Aoun back in May, Geagea free . . . perhaps

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