Middle East Council of Churches reacts to Lebanon political settlement

Middle East Council of Churches reacts to Lebanon political settlement

Statement from the Middle East Council of Churches on the settlement of the political impasse in Lebanon

Update on Lebanon

Rival Lebanese leaders who are meeting in Doha – Qatar, signed a deal on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 to end 18 months of political conflict, pulling their country away from the brink of civil war and paving the way for the election of a new president, the formation of a national unity government and a ban on the use of weapons in any internal conflict.

The agreement was announced by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani after days of tensed intensive negotiations that lasted for 5 days in Doha.  The two sides have been negotiating since Friday in an Arab-mediated bid to end a political crisis that erupted into deadly street battles earlier this month, the worst sectarian unrest in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 Civil Wars.

Under the terms of the accord, parliament speaker Nabih Berri will call the parliament to convene most probably on Sunday to elect army Chief General Michel Suleiman as head of state, as Lebanon has been without a president since November 23, 2007 when president Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term.

Once elected president, Suleiman will chair talks among the leaders on strengthening the Lebanese state.

As result to this agreement, the opposition began to remove a protest encampment from central Beirut. The tent city, erected next to the government’s headquarters, has paralyzed the central commercial district since December 2006.

The Arab League chief Amr Mussa, who has been involved in a number of previous attempts to end the crisis said: “We have proved that the historic Lebanese formula of ‘no victor and no vanquished’ is the only formula that can lead us to safe shores.”

On this occasion, the Middle East Council of Churches would like to extend all the appreciation to Qatar and the Arab League for their efforts in reaching the agreement, which will lead to the realization of reconciliation and Justice, and the sublime values we are all committed to.

Guirguis Ibrahim Saleh

General Secretary
The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)

Beirut, 21/5/2008