11/24/2006, 00.00
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Tensions persist after Pierre Gemayel's funeral

by Youssef Hourany
Hassan Sabaa decides to rejoin cabinet, but Hezbollah threatens street demonstrations. Appeals for dialogue come from many parties. Cabinet is set to meet on Saturday to give its approval to the establishment of the international tribunal, whilst Brammertz, head of the International Investigation Commission, is back in Beirut.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa's decision to rejoin the cabinet and a general strike launched by Lebanon's business and industrial groups for the purpose of restoring the broad coalition, including Shia ministers, and force the government to focus on the country's economic woes are some of the consequences of the appeal made yesterday by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to convince governments ministers who resigned to come back.

But Hezbollah has indirectly said no. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has ordered his followers to lift a road block on the road to the airport, but Hezbollah lawmaker Ali al-Moqdad said that after the three days of national mourning, street demonstrations against the current government will start again.

Meanwhile, reactions to Pierre Gemayel's murder continue in Lebanon as well as in the region and around the world.

French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy held talks with PM Siniora after the funeral and expressed his government's full support for the implementation of UN Resolution 1701 and the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate and judge 15 terrorist incidents that have occurred in the last two years. As part of this process, Serge Brammertz, head of the International Investigation Commission into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, arrived last night in Beirut.

PM Siniora has also announced a cabinet meeting for Saturday in order to approve the UN Security Council demand to establish the international tribunal. Mr Siniora reiterated his firm intention to remain in his post out of respect for the March 14 martyrs and saluted the memory of his fellow cabinet member, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, "martyr for the UN tribunal".

French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy went to Bkerke to meet Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Cardinal Sfeir to whom he handed a letter from French President Jacques Chirac.

Afterwards Mr Douste-Blazy said that Lebanon must be helped to overcome the current crisis. He also criticised the opposition, which is trying to destroy the country.

Before leaving he met Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, with whom he discussed the importance of setting up the UN tribunal and the need for him to mediate among Lebanese parties.

Arab League General-Secretary Amr Moussa, before leaving for Egypt, appealed to all parties to renew their dialogue, which is the only path that can lead the country out of its violent quagmire, and reiterated that the Arab League was available to help re-establish the right climate for dialogue. He also condemned the Gemayel's assassination pointing the finger at Lebanon's enemies.

Iran's embassy said that the minister's murder was "a vile terrorist operation". Although many believe Iran and Syria might be involved in the attack, Tehran has blamed the enemies of Lebanon for trying to destabilise peace and break the country's national unity.

From Damascus, Emigration Minister Buthayna Shaaban rejected all accusations levelled at her government. She said the attack was part of a wider regional and international conspiracy coming at a time when relations between Syria and the West and its neighbours were improving as shown by the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Iraq and discussions about renewing the dialogue with the United States and Great Britain

Lebanese Minister Suleiman Frangieh, in a statement made yesterday afternoon, harshly criticised the leaders of the March 14 movement. He urged former President Amin Gemayel, Pierre Gemayel's father, not to fall for the tears these leaders shed. He also accused Samir Geagea without naming him by saying criminal acts such as the one that led to Gemayel's death are part of his strategy. Lebanon, he said, won't be at peace as long as a Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geagea are not in prison.

Phalange (Kataeb) Party leader Karim Pakradouni also made an appeal to all the parties to renew their dialogue. He expressed hope in the wisdom of Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri and called on all parties to respect Pierre Gemayel's memory through prayer, which can south tormented souls.

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See also
In Stockholm Siniora asks donor countries for help
Tehran backs Damascus against new UN Resolution
Commemorating Rafik Hariri’s death, demanding answers from March 14 leaders
Secretary Rice brings US backing to Suleiman and Siniora
Obstinacy on both sides can lead to the country’s downfall, says Sfeir


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