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UN Urges Lebanese Militia To Disband

Tangible Results Still Not Achieved In Key Parts Of Resolution On Lebanon – Annan

While some requirements of a key United Nations resolution on Lebanon have been met, including withdrawal of Syrian troops and holding free and fair elections, others remain to be implemented, particularly disbanding Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his latest report on the issue.

"The issue of the illegal transfer of arms and people (from Syria) towards armed Palestinian groups in Lebanon… has threatened to cast a shadow on the efforts aimed at bolstering Lebanon's sovereignty," Mr. Annan tells the Security Council in his second report on Council Resolution 1559 of September 2004.

"Tangible results are yet to be achieved in these two fields and I will continue my efforts in this regard," he says, referring to the disarming and disbanding of militias and the extension of Government control over all Lebanon's territory.

"More needs to be done to meet the Security Council's call for concrete measures to ensure the return of effective governmental authority throughout the south of Lebanon."

He notes that the Syrian Government has said cross-border smuggling of arms and people takes place in both directions, while the Government of Lebanon has reported undertaking "significant measures towards restricting such an influx of arms and people and free movement of weaponry and armed elements to and from the Palestinian refugee camps in recent weeks."

Resolution 1559 calls for withdrawing all foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding all militias, extending Government control over the whole country, holding free elections, and the full restoration and strict respect for the sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and political independence of Lebanon.

With regard to the extension of Lebanese Government control over all its territory, Mr. Annan says he was "particularly concerned" when in June the Lebanese army appeared to be reducing its presence and control in the south, while the Hizbollah militia strengthened its own. After the UN voiced its concern, the army returned to its original strength.

"There has not been any noticeable change in the operational capabilities of Hizbollah, which, according to its own leadership, has more than 12,000 missiles at its disposal," he writes, noting that many Lebanese consider the Hizbollah not a militia but a "legitimate resistance movement" against Israeli occupation of the disputed Shebaa farms area, although the UN has repeatedly stated that the area is not part of Lebanon.

"Although important progress has been made, I will continue to assign the matter of full restoration of the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon the highest priority in my efforts to assist the parties in the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004) in the coming months," Mr. Annan concludes.

"In particular, I will focus on working with the Lebanese authorities on the complete exercise of governmental control and authority throughout all of Lebanon, unchallenged by the existence of independent and unsupervised Lebanese and non-Lebanese groups."

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