Following latest developments in Lebanon, an extraordinary meeting of the Socialist International to examine the grave situation in that country was held in Beirut last Saturday 16 December. The meeting was hosted by the Progressive Socialist Party, PSP, a member of the SI, and also included the participation of leaders and representatives of the different political forces which make up the 14 March Movement which played a major role in the “Cedars Revolution”, leading to the withdrawal of Syrian military forces from the country, the holding of free elections in June 2005 and the forming of the current government headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
The meeting was inaugurated with a special opening session with the presence of many Lebanese delegates, representatives of member parties of the International and a large number of members of the press and mass media, began with a minute’s silence in memory of the political leaders, personalities and other Lebanese citizens who, in their efforts to take forward the agenda of advancing and consolidating democracy, freedom and national independence, lost their lives at the hands of criminals in recent times. At the opening, interventions were made the Secretary General of the International, Luis Ayala; the leader of the Kataeb Party, Amin Gemayel, father of the recently assassinated Minister of Industry, Pierre Gemayel; the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party and host of the event, Walid Jumblatt; the leader of the Future Movement, Saad Hariri, son of assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the President of Socialist International, George Papandreou, who chaired the meeting.
During the debates throughout the day, which included testimonies and contributions from Lebanese participants, delegates of the International were unanimous in expressing their support and solidarity with the efforts of the members of the 14 March Movement, and of the government, to maintain peace and stability in the country and to successfully carry out the creation of a Special Tribunal, with the support of the Security Council of the United Nations, to judge those held responsible for the violence and assassination of leaders and members of the media, which have recently shaken the political life of the country. Equally, the delegates were united in making a renewed call for an end to foreign intervention and the attempts by external forces to destabilise the country, as well as for the implementation of the resolutions in relation to Lebanon adopted by the United Nations Security Council. These and other considerations and elements were highlighted in a unanimously adopted Statement.
After the closure of the meeting, and in the name of the participants, the President and the Secretary General of the International, together with Vice-President Deniz Baykal, informed the President of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri of the conclusions of the meeting and presented him with a copy of the adopted Statement, in order that its contents could be transmitted to the political forces of the opposition, who it is his responsibility to represent. Later, at the end of the day, on his return from a trip abroad, Prime Minister Siniora received all the participants at the seat of the government, addressing them in a wide-ranging speech on the current situation in the country and the aims of his government.
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