Presidential aspirant Nassib Lahoud says he is against the cancellation of the 1992 general amnesty for civil war crimes “because what is required is the release of Samir Geagea, not throwing Nabih Berri and Walid Jumblat to jail, too.” Lahoud, an MP for Metn who heads the Democratic Renewal Movement, also says Lebanon needs a new president, a trusted government and a “truly representative parliament” to cope with the aftermath of the Iraq earthquake.
Lahoud, a prominent member of the Qornet Shahwan coalition of right-wing Christian politicians functioning under Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir’s wing, said in an interview carried by As Safir Thursday that he opposed the proposal recently put before the coalition for an abolition of the 1992 amnesty.
“I have opposed the proposal on the grounds that what is required is the release of Samir Geagea rather than bringing Nabih Berri and Walid Jumblat to prison, too,” Lahoud said.
Geagea, who headed the Lebanese Forces, the Christians’ major civil war militia, is the only warlord who had been jailed after the conflict. Other warlords like Jumblat and Berri became pillars of the post-war regime that is sponsored by Syria.
Berri headed the Amal militia while Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party fielded the mightiest militia within the Muslim camp during the 1975-1990 strife that claimed more than 150,000 lives and wreaked a $25 billion worth of material havoc.
Geagea, who was arrested in 1994 when the government outlawed the LF although it had changed into a political party, is still serving combined prison terms of 120 years in solitary confinement at the defense ministry in Yarze.
Lahoud contends that Geagea must be freed within the framework of the 1992 amnesty law that pardoned all civil war crimes. If that amnesty is revoked, then Berri and Jumblat would be liable to go to jail on the same charges brought against Geagea.
Nassib Lahoud made it plain he was against the renewal or extension of the term of his cousin Emile Lahoud as president of Lebanon, because in order to cope with the changes emanating from the U.S. occupation of Iraq the president must be changed, a new and trusted government formed and a truly representative parliament elected.
Those who are wagering that the “Iraq earthquake” had made the Bush administration a major player in electing a new Lebanon president are wrong. So are those who wager that the current status quo would survive for quite a long time to come because the U.S will eventually be defeated by the Iraqi resistance.
“The two concepts are wrong. We should not bet on quick changes sparked by the Iraq war and the existing regime should realize that it can be broken apart,” Nassib Lahoud was quoted as saying. “We have to introduce a gradual process of change to get a new president, a trusted government and a truly representative parliament.”