Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat—In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called on the Lebanese people to not be disheartened by the slow-moving political process and warned against the use of violence.
He said: “The sluggishness that is besetting the current political process in Lebanon is due to obstacles, and to some parties resorting to arms and trying to use Lebanon as a platform to serve regional and international interests.”
“There can be no doubt that Lebanon is moving towards greater democracy, and therefore towards the renunciation of arms and violence and the application of an important idea that the Lebanese have avoided so far, which can be summed up as ‘coexistence and accepting others,'” he added.
Lebanon is currently in the middle of a prolonged political crisis, with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam still unable to form a cabinet seven months after his initial nomination. This is the longest period that an appointee has held the post without forming a government.
Siniora, who also heads Lebanon’s Future bloc, reiterated an expression made popular by Catholic Pope John Paul II that “Lebanon is more than a country,” it is a message to the entire world.
Pope John Paul II famously said: “Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message of freedom and an example of pluralism for both the East and West.”
Siniora informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he believes that the “the Lebanese experience must ultimately go beyond the problems that it has experienced and serve as a message of peace and and coexistence and acceptance of others, with every citizen achieving their potential through joint action.”
He said: “We are well aware of the concept of democracy, but we question the so-called response to the Arab Spring, which has also been called the Arab Autumn.”
“We must benefit from this stage and from the changes taking place in the Arab world,” he added.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Brussels, Siniora said: “It would be unfair to expect this change to take place overnight, for the problems that we are facing today include the use of violence by institutions to confront citizens’ demands for change and dignity.”
While Siniora rejected the use of violence by official institutions, he emphasized that this should not push Lebanese to reject democracy.
He said: “Whatever the ills of democracy, it is the best system of government because it grants citizens the chance to express their capabilities and bring about change. The democratic system can modify and change its own course, and so we are living through a period of change which will see both victories and failures . . . but the goal should be to continue the transition towards democracy.”