02/07/2008, 00.00
LEBANON
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The Maronite bishops are worried: "There is disagreement on everything"

Today the secretary of the Arab League returns for a mission that appears to be extremely difficult. The initiative, which all formally support, is in danger of not even reaching the first stage, or the election of Sleiman as head of state.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - "People are disagreeing over everything" and "constitutional institutions are being blocked": in this climate, described in this way yesterday by the Maronite bishops, Arab League secretary Amr Moussa returns to Beirut this afternoon in a difficult, if not desperate, attempt to find a solution to the Lebanese crisis. 

The situation, in the description that the Maronite bishops gave of it at the end of their monthly meeting, is extremely worrying. "There have been several attempts to paralyse the army and to thwart the role of the Church. This is part of the plan aimed at emptying Lebanon and driving its youth to emigrate". "Paralysing government decisions inflicts damage on citizens and their rights," the bishops added. 

Moussa returns to Beirut in this context.  He has already said that he will re-propose the so-called Arab initiative, the proposal approved at the Arab League headquarters: to elect the head of the army, Michel Sleiman, as president of the republic, to form a national unity government, and to draft new electoral laws. 

The project has been formally approved by the majority and the opposition.  But the latter of these, furious over the "clarifications" and conditions, have practically rejected it.  Beginning with the request - which they continue to advance - to have the 11 ministers in the next government that would permit them to block any decision of the executive branch. Moussa's clarification that the initiative does not admit an absolute majority or a "third block", because in the crisis "there must be no winners or losers", didn't help at all.  "We cannot let go of the power of the veto", Michel Aoun repeated yesterday evening. Aoun is a staunch ally of the opposition led by Hezbollah. 

Aoun then repeated that he continues to see himself as a possible presidential candidate, and still proposes electing a president for a limited term of just a couple of years.  This idea, together with Hezbollah's request for further investigations and severe punishment of the members of the military involved in the bloody incidents of last week, seem to be in reality an attempt to scuttle Sleiman's candidacy - which everyone continues to support, at least formally.  Even Syria, according to Moussa, has given "encouraging" signals. 

But for Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese armed forces, the real interest of Damascus is "to block everything in order to prevent clearing the way for the international tribunal", which is charged with judging those thought responsible for the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and is likely to hold Syria itself accountable

And precisely in the name of Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese parliamentary majority has called for a demonstration on February 14th, the third anniversary of the attack.  The first demonstration against the assassination forced Syria to withdraw from Lebanon; this one, in the end, may be intended to prevent Syrian forces from returning, possibly in a disguised form.

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