BEIRUT: The head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, Sami Gemayel, has threatened to disrupt presidential elections if the other parties try to elect a president who would provide cover for Hezbollah’s weapons.
Speaking at the party’s general conference on Friday, Gemayel — a fierce opponent of Hezbollah — said that what was happening was an attempt to change the face of Lebanon.
The opening session of the general conference was attended by anti-Hezbollah political figures, who also expressed opposition to the party’s recent actions.
Gemayel’s parliamentary bloc is the third largest Christian bloc following the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces Party.
They are trying to kill our country by killing freedom, cooperation, democracy, a strong and free economy, and Lebanon’s openness to the world.
“They are trying to kill our country by killing freedom, cooperation, democracy, a strong and free economy, and Lebanon’s openness to the world,” he said.
Gemayel added that the battle today was not against a certain category of Lebanese people, but rather over Christian and Muslim coexistence.
“However, there is a huge group of Christian and Muslim Lebanese, and of all denominations, who believe that Lebanon is a message of civilization and development.
“They also believe in freedom and were born clinging to this freedom.
“Whoever is trying to eliminate the Lebanese spirit is not a group of Lebanese, but rather an armed party that is taking its sect hostage and trying to turn the conflict in Lebanon into a sectarian one,” he said.
Gemayel talked about suspicious land purchases, demographic change, institutional crippling and a systematic attack on free media.
He said: “We could not force the Syrian army to withdraw until we stood hand-in-hand in Martyrs’ Square. Today, we will not be able to preserve Lebanon unless we all unite again.”
Gemayel said that the ruling class handed over the country to Hezbollah under the pretext of defending Christians.
“We had warned against handing over the country to Hezbollah,” he added.
“We warned against economic collapse and international isolation. Some are clearly trying to kick us out of the economic, diplomatic, and political equations, but the true will of the Lebanese people was expressed in the Cedar Revolution and the Oct. 17 Revolution.”
Gemayel added: “Today, there are two states in Lebanon, the Lebanese Republic, and another state, which is the Islamic Republic of Hezbollah, and each state has its own funding, army, and foreign policy.
“The Islamic Republic is trying to put its hand on the pluralistic Lebanese Republic, and we need to fight such attempts. We cannot continue to deal with the dictatorial practices in a traditional manner; compromising with the Islamic Republic has dragged us into this catastrophic situation. We kept making one concession after the other, one settlement after the other.
“From this moment on, we refuse to submit to Hezbollah’s will."
Gemayel continued: “We call on all the Lebanese to assume their responsibilities, and we want Hezbollah to know that we will no longer accept this status quo.
“If a divorce between the two states is inevitable, then so be it. Hezbollah ought to announce it, but we will not accept living like second-class citizens. We will not submit; we will resist.
“The Kataeb Party is not a fan of war. We support the state and the army, but if anyone dares approach our homes, we will defend ourselves,” he added.
On the second anniversary of the assassination of researcher Lokman Slim, who was known for his outspoken opposition to Hezbollah, Gemayel noted: “We know that no trial will ever be held to shed light on Slim’s assassination.”
He added: “We thus know the extent of intimidation to which the Lebanese who oppose Hezbollah are subjected.”
Slim’s family and friends commemorated the second anniversary of his assassination on Friday in the absence of an indictment from the Lebanese judiciary.
Slim had told the public that he was receiving death threats from Hezbollah prior to his assassination in southern Lebanon.
MP Ashraf Rifi said: “They are trying once again to impose a president and government by taking advantage of the vacuum and making threats.
“Lebanon was an icon in the East, but the axis of evil turned it into a terror camp, a Captagon lab, and a murder scene. They are now seeking to elect a puppet to continue controlling the country.”