Lebanon News

No second presidential term, a successor in the making: Aoun

President Michel Aoun in a speech addressing Lebanon's diplomatic corps, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (The Daily Star/Dalati & Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Sunday that instead of seeking a second presidential term, a successor to the office is in the making.

“I am not thinking of running for a second term,” Aoun was quoted saying in a statement by his media office.

“We are currently preparing to have a suitable successor to set a role model for others,” Aoun was saying during an interview with the French LCI TV.

He didn’t say who his successor might be.

Aoun won the presidential race in Oct. 31 following a wide-ranging agreement among local political parties.

His term ended a nearly three-year presidential vacuum that almost paralyzed of state institutions.

“Politics to me is to help the others, the state, the nation, and the people,” Aoun said.

“With time, we acquire better experience and we become wiser as we try to avoid severe mistakes,” Aoun added.

-- Sovereign state --

Aoun also urged security agencies to stay vigilant.

“We must have security forces that are constantly ready and alert,” Aoun said.

“The army must be strengthened...to protect Lebanon.”

Aoun noted that no party should be stronger than the Lebanese state, otherwise “chaos will prevail.”

A strong Lebanese state is revived by attending to the public interests of the Lebanese people, Aoun said.

“Not a single minute should be wasted in order to build a strong state,” he said.

“Lebanon has a last chance to rebuild a strong country by establishing institutions that tend to the interests of the homeland and the Lebanese,” he added.

Aoun said that the current Syrian regime is the best guarantee to returning order to the neighboring country.

--Syrian crisis--

“President [Bashar] Assad is the only force that can re-impose order [in Syria] and reunite all [Syrians],” Aoun said.

Assad will remain in power as “those who have demanded him to be overthrown do not really know Syria truly,” Aoun continued.

Recent developments in Syria favor the current government have resulted in negotiations to reach a political solution, Aoun said.

“Such wars do not end with the victory of one party over the other.”

As for the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Aoun said they must return to their country.

“Lebanon cannot host the Syrian displaced for an indefinite period,” Aoun said.

“Lebanon received them for humanitarian reasons,” Aoun said.

There are currently 1 million Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR in Lebanon, though the government estimates the number is much higher.

Though census data is out of date, the population of Lebanon is estimated to be around 4.5 million, making it the host of the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.

--Arab Ties –

Aoun said that Arab countries can also support Lebanon by resuming their relations with Lebanon.

“Saudi Arabia and Qatar can now help support the revival of state [institutions] in Lebanon through restoring their natural relations with Lebanon,” Aoun said.

Aoun said that the Lebanese officials are currently seeking to rebuild trust with Arab countries.

Relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in addition to other GCC countries had soured over Lebanon’s perceived position regarding regional disputes and the role of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria.

Aoun’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar was welcomed by GCC officials who promised to renew support to Lebanon.





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