09 November 2007

Etienne Sacre joins the Lebanese presidential race

Beirut - Etienne Sacre ,President of the Guardians of the Cedars Party - Movement for Lebanese Nationalism has officially announced his candidacy for president of Lebanon to replace outgoing president Emile Lahoud.

"In the absence of exceptional candidates who bring salvation programs to move the country from a state of despair, decay, corruption and slow death to a state of hope, invigoration, reform and prosperity;"

"We have decided to fight the presidential election battle on the basis of the following program:" the announcement said

The announcement listed all the details of his program as follows :

"1 - Declare the neutrality of Lebanon and distance it permanently from the politics of regional axes, and work with the United Nations for an international consolidation of that neutrality.

2 - Declare faith in the Lebanese Nation based on its existence as a complete, eternal and final nation endowed with all the attributes, characteristics and properties that this entails, and recuperate Lebanon's unique Lebanese identity to the exclusion of all foreign qualifiers.

3 - Separate Religion from the State and work to adopt and establish the secular State.

4 - Fully implement all international resolutions pertaining to Lebanon, particularly resolutions 1559 and 1701, and support the establishment of the International Tribunal and facilitate its work and abide by its decisions.

5 - Eliminate and disarm the private mini-states and protectorates, both Lebanese and non-Lebanese, dismantle their infrastructures and subject them to the authority of the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces.

6 - Join in the international campaign for combating terrorism, hunt down the terrorist organizations that operate in Lebanon, and eradicate their active and sleeper cells in completion of the Army's work in Nahr ElBared.

7 - Adopt a peer-to-peer policy in dealing with neighboring states, particularly with the Syrian State, and tightly control the borders between them and Lebanon by seeking the assistance of the international forces to the Lebanese Army in performing this task.

8 - Join in the endeavor of reforming the State and modernize its institutions, dismiss the excessive bureaucracy and adopt the principle of employment on the basis of merit and competence rather than on the basis of nepotism and cronyism.

9 - Abolish the permits of political parties with a non-Lebanese allegiance, especially those parties with links to terrorist regimes, and deny them operating from Lebanese territory.

10 - Stand up to the practice of the wholesale selling of Lebanese real estate to foreigners. Recover all real estate purchased in suspicious schemes or for the objectives of sectarian partition, changing Lebanon's demographic composition or harming Lebanon's national and social fabric.

11 - Bring an end to all collective naturalizations, withdraw Lebanese citizenship from newly naturalized but unmeritorious recipients, and grant citizenship only to qualified individuals who have given outstanding services to Lebanon.

12 - Prevent the permanent settlement of the Palestinian refugees by seriously and persistently seeking their return to their homes or expatriating them to countries that are able to absorb them.

13 - Grant the opportunity for Lebanese nationals residing in the broader Lebanese expatriate Diaspora to participate in the legislative elections by voting and running as candidates.

14 - Support the military institution and the security forces will all necessary material, financial and moral support to enable it to fully discharge its national obligations.

15 - Amend the Taif Agreement so as to reinstate the authority and prerogatives to the Presidency of the Republic, regardless of the sectarian denomination of the President.

The announcement was signed by Etienne Sacre - Abu Arz who is the president of the Guardians of the Cedars Party (Horras Al-Arz - in Arabic).

Like the rest of the Lebanese politicians, Sacre participated heavily in the Lebanese Civil War in 1970s and 1980s, and remained militantly active until he was expelled from the country for collaborating with the South Lebanon Army, an Israeli proxy in southern Lebanon during the latter's military occupation until the year 2000.

Sacre formed the Guardians of the Cedars party in 1974 / 75.

During the civil war, the Guardians of the Cedars party initially joined the Lebanese Front, a right-wing coalition of mainly Christian parties intended to act as a counter force to the Lebanese National Movement of Kamal Jumblatt ( father of MP Walid Jumblatt) and others. While Sacre objected to the Syrian intervention in 1976, the Lebanese Front accepted it. Sacre then withdrew from the Front and the Guardians retreated to the mountains but continued to fight on the LF side in key battles, including East Beirut (1978 and Zahle (1981).

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.