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Sfeir Torpedoes Resignation Speculation, Says Some Want to Overthrow Suleiman, While Others Want Syrian Comeback

In an interview published Tuesday by Asharq al-Awsat newspaper Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah made many accusations :

Accused “some” of wanting to bring down President Michel Suleiman

Accused others of yearning for a Syrian comeback

Accused those that want to abolish political sectarianism of planning to take over the country.

Toppling the president

“There are those who want to overthrow the President to take his place,” Sfeir said.

He was responding to a question about the political campaign against Suleiman in which some pro-Syrian leaders demanded the President’s resignation for allegedly failing as consensus leader.

“The campaign did not come from nowhere because there are people who are planning it,” Sfeir said.

“There are some who have political and personal interests and others who want to topple the President to take his place, and perhaps there are some who have other plots,” he added when asked whether the anti-Suleiman campaign was orchestrated by Syria or Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.

Sfeir hailed Suleiman, saying he is seeking to unify Lebanese “as much as possible.”

“Unification, however, cannot be done with a magic wand,” he believed, adding that Lebanese will have to meet Suleiman’s urge to unite.

“It seems, however, that so far there are those who do not want to respond to his call,” Sfeir said.

Syrian comeback

When asked whether he thought Syria has started to return to Lebanon, even without its army, after it pulled out its troops nearly five years ago, Sfeir said:

“Syria has left Lebanon militarily, but continues to maintain a civilian presence in Lebanon. Syrians go and come whenever they want and it is clear that they interfere in Lebanese affairs.”

Asked whether he thought Syrian influence began to grow again after withdrawal from Lebanon, the Patriarch said:

“There may be some Lebanese who want the Syrians to return for personal purposes, but this is not clear until now.”

Asked whether he fears American openness to Syria, Sfeir said: “States seek to achieve their interests. Perhaps today it (U.S.) is with Syria and, possibly, future circumstances require that they (Americans) be against Syria. They work according to the needs and circumstances.”

Sfeir, on the other hand, said it is in Lebanon’s interest to forge “best relations with its neighbors, and the nearest neighbor is Syria.”

“This is something normal, but there are events that create a distance between the two neighbors and others that bring the two neighbors closer,” he explained.

“The exchange of ambassadors is a good thing, of course, but this is not everything. There are, of course, some desires.

March 14

Turning to Progressive socialist party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, Sfeir said the PSP chief quit March 14 forces, “but March 14 will remain as it is.”

When the time comes

Sfeir torpedoed the speculation that he intends to tender his resignation during his meeting at the Vatican April 21.

“Let them say what they want,” Sfeir said

Asked whether he will ever think of resigning or stepping down, Sfeir said: “When the time comes.”

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