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Civil society leaders call for dialogue
FILE - Rival political leaders gather at the National Dialogue table at Baabda Palace, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
FILE - Rival political leaders gather at the National Dialogue table at Baabda Palace, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: Prominent civil society leaders gathered Tuesday to throw their support behind President Michel Sleiman’s call for National Dialogue and to call for the implementation of the Baabda Statement and Taif Accord.

“Civil society stands behind the president in calling all parties to implement the Baabda Statement, issued during the Dialogue Session on June 11, 2012,” the group, Civil Society’s Dialogue Table, said in a statement at the Press Federation.

The Baabda Statement calls for distancing Lebanon from regional turmoil, while the Taif Accord ended the country’s Civil War.

The group proposed that the all-party talks also include independent men and women who are not on either side of the country’s political divide, while also urging the rival March 8 and 14 coalitions to look for common ground.

Members of the group, including former Ministers Bahij Tabbara, Ziyad Baroud and Mona Ofeish, along with former MPs and activists, decried the current polarization, which they said was leaving the country exposed to dangers.

“Enough: We say it to all political leaders without exception on behalf of hundreds of thousands of patient and steadfast Lebanese,” Tabbara said, reading the statement. “Enough: We say it in formal Arabic and all Lebanese dialects so that maybe they [leaders] will realize that people are fed up with them and their behavior.”

Tabbara said that last month’s assassination of intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan was a crime against the whole nation, not just any one group: “But due to some political leaders, it has further deepened the society’s divisions and exacerbated tensions.”

Baroud said he doesn’t want the group to appear as a reaction to the dominant political coalitions.

“They are working in politics and this is their right. But it is necessary to find other groups to propose alternative policies ... In Lebanon we have a culture of criticism but not of providing an alternative.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 07, 2012, on page 4.
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