05/21/2005, 00.00
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Christians face complications as they head for election

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanese Christians are headed for upcoming political elections divided among themselves, when not actually at enmity with each other.

On the evening of 19 May, there was a hard response, "lies, a tissue of lies" from the group Kornet Chehwane – which has gained the trust of Marronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir – to a campaign launched by some communications media. This campaign claims that "Christians played a key role in the fight for independence but now they will be unable to exploit their victory because of an electoral law which will end up in returning to parliament the same faces there are now". These people also tend to insinuate that the patriarch, the Church and the Kornet Chechwane group have "betrayed the Christians".

In a statement disseminated at the end of a meeting at the seat of the Marronite Archbishop of Antelias – now occupied by Mgr Youseef Bechara – Kornet Chehwane highlighted how the campaign, conducted by "those who have linked their destiny to the continued presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon" is "pushing confessional susceptibility to new heights, beyond those reached even during the war".

"The Christian and Muslim opposition," continues the statement, "will not lose the election; it will win notwithstanding the electoral law." Kornet Chehwane, "counts on the game of alliances to remedy the damage done by the electoral law, as what happened in Beirut and Chouf shows". This in spite of the fact that the alliance among Shia movements Hezbollah and Amal in the south, and the one deep in the mountains of Chouf and in Beirut between the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) of Druse leader, Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Forces (F1), Christians and the Mostaqbal (Future) movement of the family of slain former Sunni premier, Rafik Hariri, seem convinced they can overcome any adversary.

In recent days, Patriarch Sfeir himself intervened to forcefully deny rumours circulating in some newspapers about him and some components of Kornet Chechwane. He denounced the rumours, saying they aimed to "divide rather than reunite" and maintained that Kornet Chechwane has done everything it could and that "good" results obtained.

For his part, General Aoun – who had said he wanted to collaborate with Patriarch Sfeir – had a long meeting with Samir Geagea, commander of the Lebanese Forces, visiting him in his cell at the Defence Ministry with US Ambassador Jeffry Filtmann (YH)

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See also
Family thanks Cardinal Sfeir for helping in Samir Geagea's release
Maronite bishops call for new electoral law, Geagea's release
Schools and universities closed as Sfeir calls on parties to get back to talks
Tense calm in Beirut after general strike suspended
Bishops act to end divisions between Maronite political leaders


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