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suleiman in amchitA huge celebration welcomed former president Michel Suleiman to his hometown of Amchit marking the end of his six-year term in office, National News Agency reported on Sunday

NNA said that thousands of Suleiman’s supporters gathered in front of his residence to welcome him back after six years at the Baabda presidential Palace.

Banners in support of his stances were displayed everywhere in the town as rice was thrown and church bells rang upon the former president’s arrival.

Suleiman said according to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3):
“We hope that the presidential vacuum won’t last too long and we support anything that falls in Lebanon’s favor.” Suleiman was quoted as saying by Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3):

Former Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, his son Taymur, and MPs Marwan Hamadeh and Alaeddine Terro were among the officials taking part in the celebrations.

Jumblatt said on the occasion: “The new president must commit to the Baabda Declaration and the positions that Suleiman made during his farewell speech.”
He was referring to the agreement reached in 2012 between the rival Lebanese politicians to distance Lebanon from the Syrian conflict.

In his farewell speech yesterday stressed that it is time to establish a national defense strategy as a natural way to build the nation, warning of the presidential vacuum that threatens the political order in the country.

“The Baabda Declaration was praised by the international community as it is the only way to dissociate Lebanon from the neighboring conflicts,” he was quoted as saying before more than 450 political and diplomatic figures

“What brings us together is far more important than what divides us,” Suleiman added

French President Francois Hollande called Suleiman on Sunday to express to him his concern over the situation in Lebanon given the vacuum in the presidency.

It said that the French president hoped that Lebanon would elect a president “as soon as possible” and that vacuum would not last too long.

Later on Sunday, Suleiman’s press office said he also received a phone call from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who “expressed his utmost appreciation to the efforts he had made during his presidential term in Lebanon, especially in terms of preserving security and stability.”

The U.N. chief voiced his “readiness to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations of the International Support Group meeting that was held in New York in September and the subsequent conference in Paris.”

According to the statement, Ban also said he will “exert all efforts necessary for the success of the Rome meeting that will be held in mid-June to discuss means to support the Lebanese Army.”

“Suleiman and Ban Ki-moon agreed to meet in New York to follow up on these issues,” the former president’s press office said.

In a statement from his spokesperson, Ban regretted that the Lebanese parliament was unable to elect a new president within the timeframe set by the constitution and called on the country’s leaders to select a new one “without delay.”

Ban also urged Lebanese leaders to ensure that the government would continue to function to address challenges in the country and its international obligations.

“The United Nations remains committed to continued partnership with the Government of Lebanon as it works towards achieving these goals,” Ban said.

According to the statement, the U.N. chief “paid tribute to the leadership demonstrated by President Suleiman over the past six years” and lauds “his commitment to the unity and stability of Lebanon, including through the International Support Group for Lebanon.”

According to observers Suleiman will be soon forming his own political party which is expected to assume a centrist position in Lebanon. These observers are projecting a key political role for him within the Christian community… Suleiman’s party is reportedly expected to attract many supporters of MP Michel Aoun, who were angered by his alliance with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

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