JEZZINE, south Lebanon: Head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun reached out to supporters who feel alienated in a visit to south Lebanon that signals ongoing preparations for the approaching 2013 parliamentary elections.
Aoun’s first stop was in the Christian villages of Jermaq and Aishieh. He then headed to Kfar Houne and Jezzine, where MP Ziyad Aswad held a reception at his residence welcoming the FPM leader to the south in the presence of several religious and political figures.
The streets of Jezzine were lined with the orange flags of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) as well as large posters of Aoun featuring several of his quotes, including “Don’t dare make a mistake.”
It appeared that Aoun’s visit aimed at reconciling his Jezzine parliamentary deputies with voters. According to political sources, southerners have accused the three FPM parliamentarians from the area of neglect and failing to fulfill their responsibilities.
“After I leave here, I want you to reconcile and shake hands,” he said pointedly to his deputies and the crowd in attendance during his speech at Aswad’s residence.
“I do not want to talk about myself, but I am a crowned king. I can run in any area and win, but I came here because I care about you,” the former Army general added.
Aoun also said that south Lebanon envoys a high level of security and stability and a very low crime rate – citing kidnappings specifically – compared to other Lebanese areas.
Prior to his arrival to Jezzine, members of the Internal Security Forces and Army personnel, accompanied by police dogs, searched places Aoun was expected to visit.
The FPM leader is scheduled to visit other towns, such as Maqnuneye, where he is expected to inaugurate construction of an affordable housing complex to encourage Christians to remain on their lands.
In his talk with residents in Jezzine, Aoun said that no one seeks to replace the Army, and also voiced rejection of any attempt to use Lebanon as a launching pad for attacks on other countries.
"No one would seek to usurp the duty of the Army if it prepared [the appropriate] equipment for confronting Israel [defensively], which we are financially incapable of doing," Aoun said.
He also listed developmental projects totaling LL6 billion that the FPM is pushing the government to undertake in Jezzine, and vowed more projects to improve electricity and water supply.