Choose Between Loyalty to Lebanon or Syria

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      Geagea to Hizbullah: Choose Between Loyalty to Lebanon or Syria     
Beirut, 24 Sep 06, 15:20
Christian leader Samir Geagea defied Hizbullah and its followers to prove loyalty for Lebanon before demanding a change in government, insisting that allegiance to Syria would not achieve national unity.
In a massive rally that attracted tens of thousands of Christians, almost matching the masses that gathered Friday for Hizbullah’s so-called ‘divine victory’ congregation, Geagea said it was impossible for any Lebanese faction "to act unilaterally and demand a national unity government. They have to first accept national unity and then demand a government of national unity," Geagea said at the rally in the Kisrwan stronghold of Harissa under a giant statue of the Virgin Mary.

Several MPs belonging to the March 14 forces attended the rally, which was held to commemorate the Martyrs of the Lebanese forces during the 1975-1990 civil war.

It was the first time that Geagea, a political prisoner freed from jail in 2005, attended the annual mass.

The rally came two days after the Syrian-backed Hizbullah held a massive demonstration in Beirut attended by hundreds of thousands to celebrate its "victory" in the devastating July-August war with Israel.

Geagea’s supporters, waving his pictures, and white, red and green flags of his Lebanese Forces Party, arrived in buses and cars at the shrine of the Virgin Mary in the town of Harissa, 27 kilometers north of Beirut.

The Lebanese Forces leader send a strong warning to Hizbullah that its refusal to disarm was the main cause of recent divisions in Lebanon, reminiscent of the splits that caused the 1975 civil war. "The nation shall rise only when we find a solution to the weapons … there can not be a state competing with a statelet," he said backing allegations that Hizbullah had evolved into a state within a state challenging national sovereignty.

He asked "are we still in need of resistance? No, we need to champion a political resistance, a resistance that relies on intellect not missiles and unity not schism….

In an effort to reassure skeptics worried about interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs with the influx of international forces to Lebanon under the banner of the United Nations, Geagea said "rest assured UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) will not interfere in our internal affairs nor will we allow it."

Geagea insisted Syria still did not recognize Lebanon as an independent, sovereign country and as such it refuses to demarcate the borders. "To date Syria is still striving to wrest control of Lebanon," Geagea said.

Indirectly referring to Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speech on Friday, Geagea said there were factions in Lebanon that are seeking to undermine the 1989 Taef agreement that ended the civil war.

"Before demanding a national unity government they must work to achieve national unity," Geagea said. "They can not take pride in relations with Syria and at the same time claim allegiance to Lebanon."