02/02/2007, 00.00
LEBANON
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Some rays of hope for peace and reconciliation in Beirut

by Paul Dakiki
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is set to travel to Beirut with a plan to submit to both majority and opposition. Aoun and Franjieh sign bishops’ ‘declaration of principles’.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who is to travel to Beirut next Thursday, will present a four-point plan to bridge the gap between majority and opposition in Lebanon, this according to majority MP Marwan Hamadeh. This is raising hope that the Lebanese crisis might find a solution and comes at a time of other small ‘positive’ steps both inside and outside the country.

In addition to Moussa’s announced return, two Christian opposition leaders, Michel Aoun and Suleiman Franjieh, have in fact signed the ‘declaration of principles’ or ‘Bkerke declaration’ whilst the Quartet on the Middle East—United Nations, United States, Russia and European Union—are meeting today to discuss jumpstarting the road map or, perhaps, going beyond it.

Amr Moussa’s plan is said to endorse an international tribunal to try those accused of various recent political killings in Lebanon, beginning with the murder of former Premier Rafik Hariri. It would also include a new national unity government and a new electoral law that might include the election of a new president.

The national unity government—which is crux of the matter along with the international tribunal—should include 30 members: 19 ministers from the parliamentary majority, 10 from the opposition, and one neutral minister, dubbed “king minister” by some in the press. This would ensure the majority could not take steps that did not meet the approval of the neutral minister, but would also prevent the minority from having the “one third” of the votes to block the cabinet.

The Arab League ambassador in Beirut, Abdel Rahman al-Solh, told the Voice of Lebanon radio that the new Moussa initiative enjoyed the support of all "world capitals" and is "the only one that can arrive at the desired solution”.

Before returning to Lebanon it is significant that Moussa will visit Moscow, a long-time ally of Syria, ostensibly to get Russia to prevent Damascus from boycotting the initiative.

In exchange the international tribunal would be set up later—Syria opposes the tribunal because of the likely involvement of some of its leaders in Lebanon’s recent political killings—and be convened only at the end of the ongoing United Nations investigation.

Meanwhile, a positive sign has come during a meeting in Rabieh between Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and former Minister Suleiman Franjieh. The two Christian leaders signed a "declaration of principles" issued by the Maronite Church last December which calls for the rejection of violence, including verbal violence, and the acceptance of the democratic process.

The Lebanese Forces have also stated that they adhere to those principles unreservedly.

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