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SULEIMAN 09 INDEPBeirut – President Michel Suleiman addressed the nation on the eve of Lebanon’s 66th anniversary of independence saying: “To encourage vast participation in political life, a national committee should be established and charged with abolishing political sectarianism.”

Suleiman also proposed “changing the electoral law relating to general elections in order to obtain better representation and restore to expatriates their rights, including nationality and the right to vote.”

Under the current sectarian system , the president is a Maronite Christian, the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim and the prime minister a Sunni Muslim. In addition all the parliament members and key government position are based on religious affiliation.

Addressing the issue of state institutions Suleiman said: “We need to build state institutions according to a political platform based on openness and the preservation of civil rights.” He added : “State institutions is what safeguards independence and preserves freedoms.”

Suleiman called for other reforms, including “an independent judicial power and greater administrative decentralization to empower the municipalities.”

Suleiman addressed the issue of corruption and the mounting state debt:

“We seek to fight corruption… and to stop the waste and reduce the national debt,” he said

Suleiman called for developing stronger relations with neighboring Arab states :

“We want to see the development of relations between Lebanon, Syria and the Arab states, not only on the governmental level, but also on the civil level to reach the perfect social cooperation,” he said

Suleiman also stressed the right of Lebanese to regain their occupied territories :

“Lebanon needs to preserve its right to liberate the Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba Hills, and the Lebanese part of Ghajar.” He said

The president stressed that Lebanon, through its recently acquired seat at the U.N. Security Council, will be able to seek peaceful and just solutions to the pending issues in the region, topped by the Palestinian cause and the “right of return” for the Palestinian refugees.

The president also called for the full implementation of the Taef Accord

In October 1989, the Lebanese National Assembly met in Taif, Saudi Arabia to ratify a “National Reconciliation Accord”. The accord was designed to end the Lebanese civil war that had been raging for decades.

Paragraph 1 of the accord called for “disbanding of the Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and the transfer of weapons in their possession to the Lebanese government within six months of the rectification of the document of national reconciliation the election of a president the establishment of a national accord government and the constitutional ratification of the political reforms.”

All the militia were disbanded and their weapons handed over to the government with the exception of Hezbollah and the Palestinians that were loyal to Syria. This is because Lebanon at the time was under the Syrian tutelage and Syria was able to get away with pretty much whatever it liked in Lebanon.

Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April 2005 following the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri , but Syria continues to exert political influence in the country through Hezbollah and its allies

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