09/25/2006, 00.00
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Lebanese Forces and Druze say no to Hezbollah's demands

Geagea and Jumblatt say a national unity government cannot be created as long as Hezbollah's is aligned on Syria's positions. Patriarch Sfeir slams those who place their own partisan interests above those of the nation.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The Samir Geagea and his Maronite-dominated Lebanese Forces' and Walid Jumblatt and his predominantly Druze Progressive Socialist Party have said no to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's "victory over Israel" speech in which he demanded a national unity government that would give his party a greater place.

For Samir Geagea, the Lebanese Forces are the real winners because they successfully achieved their goal, which Hezbollah opposed, namely the deployment of Lebanese army troops in southern Lebanon. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt instead rejected any deal with Hezbollah because of the latter's dependence on Syria.

In this atmosphere of division, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Cardinal Sfeir condemned the attitude of those who would prefer to subordinate the good of the nation to its own self-interest. He also demanded that mass rallies "spread love of one's country" and "bring people together".

Yesterday's memorial mass for the "martyrs of the Lebanese Forces", which saw tens of thousands of people come together at the national Marian shrine in Harissa, came very close to being a response to Hezbollah's Friday mass rally. Speaking at the religious ceremony, Mr Geagea said, in reply to Hezbollah's demands, that "[t]here is no national unity government without national unity". For this to happen, the issue of Hezbollah's weapons must be solved. "They demand a strong state, but how can a strong state be built with a statelet within its midst?" he said.

In Mukhtara, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt made similar remarks. In his view, the Hezbollah leader's speech was tantamount to a coup d'état. As long as that party remains closely aligned to the Syrian regime, "I will not reach an agreement with you. When you separate yourself from the Syrian leadership, I will possibly hold a dialogue with you".

In celebrating Sunday mass in Bkerke, Patriarch Sfeir, focused on the notion of sacrifice during the homily.

"Since some people would rather sacrifice the national interest to benefit themselves," the patriarch said, "so would some group do in favour of their own community."

Mass rallies should, in the cardinal's words, "spread love of one's country and a sense of sacrifice for the good of the fatherland and to bring people together".

"Everyone," he insisted, "must be behind one another and work together to revive the country and bring it back to stability and prosperity".

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