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Lebanon Still Faces Serious Challenges

Continuing Attacks And Killings Show Lebanon Still Faces Serious Challenges – Ban

New York, Oct 24 2008 8:10PM

Lebanon is taking important steps forward after the deadly sectarian violence earlier this year, but a worrying series of political assassinations and explosions continues to plague the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.

In his latest report on the implementation of Security Council 1559, which calls for free and fair presidential elections in Lebanon without interference from foreign groups and for the disbanding of all militia, Mr. Ban writes that the country “was taken to the brink of civil war and back.

“The violence that erupted in Lebanon in May represented one of the greatest threats to the very foundations of the Lebanese State in recent years, and a painful reminder to all Lebanese of the threats posed by the existence of armed groups outside the control of the State.”

But he calls the election of Michel Suleiman as President at the end of May as “a significant step forward” to implementing resolution 1559, which the Council adopted in 2004 amid concern about the ongoing tensions and lack of stability within Lebanon.

“The election [of Mr. Suleiman] signalled the reactivation of Lebanon’s constitutional process, to which all parties in Lebanon have since recommitted themselves. In doing so, the Lebanese have taken a step further towards strengthening the sovereignty, stability, unity and political independence of their country.”

The report stresses the need for all parties to implement the Doha accord that ended the violence, including their commitments to refrain from using weapons to settle internal political disputes.

Mr. Ban cautions that the process of reconciliation is at an early stage and many complex challenges remain ahead, including how to deal with the ongoing assassinations and attacks.

“I am in particular disturbed by what appears to be an emerging pattern of attacks against the Lebanese armed forces, a prominent symbol of the authority of the State. I call on the Lebanese authorities to bring to justice all those who have perpetrated such crimes.”

The issue of Hizbollah’s weapons remains “central to the political debate,” he notes, saying the armed group’s “maintenance of separate military assets and infrastructure is a fundamental challenge to the Government’s attempts to consolidate the sovereignty and authority of the Lebanese State and obstructs constructive dialogue on political and security issues.”

The disarming and disbanding of all militia groups in the country, whether they are Lebanese or non-Lebanese, must be accomplished through an inclusive political dialogue, the Secretary-General adds.

He also writes that he is encouraged by the recent moves of Lebanon and Syria to normalize diplomatic relations between the two neighbours.

ENDS

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