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Lebanese State Minister for Planning Affairs: March 14 Coalition Still Holding Strong - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut– The March 14 coalition’s principles are still applicable and the alliance holds strong, a reflection of the concept of a real state in all aspects, Lebanese State Minister for Planning Affairs Michel Pharaon has said.

The minister rejected the idea of bringing the parliamentary elections forward, saying a month or two will not make any difference and will block the reform process.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Pharaon commented on Speaker Nabih Berri’s calls for holding early polls, saying early elections had been a March 14 demand since 2011.

Pharaon explained, however, that despite all the risks that led to a deal on the electoral law, no one should forget that the law with all its entities had been approved by all political forces.

The minister said that bringing the elections forward is not feasible, not to forget that a voting mechanism hasn’t been reached yet and the magnetic voting cards haven’t been issued.

When asked about the campaign against former Prime Minister Tammam Salam holding him responsible for the captivity of Lebanese soldiers by ISIS and al-Nusra militants in 2014, Pharaon said that Salam’s situation was known to everyone.

He added that security risks and the regional situation were different back then, especially that there wasn’t any Arab-regional-international decision to terminate ISIS as is the case today. 

The minister said we can’t hold Salam responsible but rather salute him for many obstacles that he faced. 

However, this doesn’t mean shying away from a battlefield investigation to clarify the issue especially that the matter has been put behind us and the Lebanese Army succeeded in ending the terror phenomenon in the juroud area on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Pharaon also congratulated the Saudi people on the occasion of the Saudi National Day. He said that this occasion is also dear to the Lebanese people because the Kingdom has always supported Lebanon at difficult and critical times.

He said that the Kingdom was the among the first countries that helped reconstruct Lebanon, adding that Saudi Arabia is a pioneer in supporting Lebanon economically and financially and the Lebanese people can only be loyal to those who supported them through prosperity and adversity.

The principles of March 14 coalition are based on the concept of a democratic state and are still the same, said Pharaon when asked about efforts to re-organize the alliance. He added that even if the coalition doesn’t convene regularly, it is still there through the political practices of its members and its supporters.

Recently, the coalition objected the meeting held between one of the Lebanese ministers with Syrian officials, which Pharaon rejected by saying the coalition is loyal to its martyrs and its supporters.

In response to whether he would run for elections for the Catholic parliamentary seat in Ashrafieh, Beirut, Pharaon said the polls are a democratic process and an important aspect for residents of the district and any Lebanese area.

He added that it is the people’s right to express their aspirations and opinions on who will represent them in the parliament and it is only natural to have more than one candidate for the Catholic seat.