| 25 February 2024, Sunday |

Sami Gemayel: We refuse to be held hostage by Hezbollah

The head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, Sami Gemayel, warned against some opposition parties resorting to a settlement with Hezbollah in the upcoming presidential elections, noting that the past six years of President Michel Aoun’s reign “led to a complete collapse.”


In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Gemayel said: “We have a basic problem called Hezbollah’s weapon, so let us confront it and stop this procrastination.”


“We are not ready to remain hostages to Hezbollah, and for the state to remain hostage to Hezbollah’s decisions and choices that have nothing to do with Lebanon,” he added.


He also called for placing Hezbollah’s weapons on a “real dialogue table.”


The effort to agree on a single name for the presidency “depends on the ability of the opposition, parties and representatives to surpass personal interests and narrow accounts, and agree on a single strategy to fight this battle,” according to the Lebanese deputy.


“For me, that’s the key,” he said. “Names are not important, but the agreement on a unified strategy is… We are supposed to maintain communication with the aim of reaching a strategy…”


Gemayel denied the presence of discrepancies within the opposition about the specifications of the new president.


“We want a president who can be entrusted with the sovereignty of this country; a president who is reformist and capable of action, and who unites all Lebanese,” he underlined.


Gemayel stressed that Hezbollah has been waging an open battle for more than 17 years, to gain control over the country.


He went on to say: “In 2016, [Hezbollah] succeeded in imposing its candidate on the presidency and enforcing a settlement that was accepted by the majority of the political parties, except for us.”


This led to the complete collapse of the country at the economic, social, health and education levels, according to the deputy, who asked: “Will we continue with this approach? Can Lebanon bear that Hezbollah name a new president again for the next six years? Can the Lebanese people tolerate such matters? Is it acceptable for Lebanon to remain isolated from its Arab surroundings and from the international community?”


However, Gemayel underlined the presence of a “real opportunity”, but reiterated that it would require the unity of all opposition blocs.


“Today, we must all have the ability to go beyond our personal considerations to achieve this goal… We [the Kataeb]… believe that our role is to serve Lebanon, not ourselves. For this, we always look to the interest of the country and the cause we are defending,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.


Nevertheless, Gemayel said he believed that it was still too early to judge the success of this movement, because serious contacts were underway.


He continued: “It is true that [Hezbollah] does not have the majority, and it is also true that the opposition does not have a majority, and therefore we must be humble and communicate together, and put all special considerations aside.”


According to Gemayel, it is still early to talk about a presidential vacuum.


He said in this regard: “We are two months away from the presidential elections. We are still deliberating together on names and discussing each of the possible scenarios to be adopted in our strategy. When we reach the last days of President Aoun’s term, then we will see what the electoral situation and balances will be like… Then we’ll talk about this issue.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat