Lebanon’s newly elected president, Michel Aoun, laid out his plan for a stable future in his first presidential address Monday, including the need to “liberate” Lebanese lands from Israel.
After four rounds of voting, including two unexpected repeat votes, Aoun, 81, won support from 83 lawmakers Monday, easily clearing the 50-percent-plus-one majority required.
In his inaugural address Aoun said his government would “not spare any efforts to protect Lebanon from Israel and liberate the remainder of our lands; we will address terrorism in a preemptive manner,” according to Lebanon’s MTV News.
He also said that “arming and supporting the Lebanese Army will be my main priority so as to enable it to fight off any threats.”
“The first step toward stability is political; we must respect the national pact, the constitution by enforcing national partnership,” Aoun said.
The president also called for a full implementation of the Taif accords, Lebanon’s Daily Star reported.
The Taif accords were agreed upon and ratified by the Lebanese parliament in 1989. The document was a roadmap to end the civil war, accommodate the Muslim majority in Lebanon and reassert Lebanese authority over southern Lebanon. It also set a time frame for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.
Israel occupied the south of Lebanon from 1982’s First Lebanon War until it unilaterally withdrew in 2000. Since Israel’s withdrawal the powerful Shiite Hezbollah terrorist group took control of the area. Hezbollah was an early backer of Aoun’s candidacy. The region is monitored by a UN peacekeeping force.
In referring to Lebanese lands held by Israel he was ostensibly referring to the disputed Shebaa Farms region, which Israel refers to as Mount Dov.
The president also promised to fight terrorism and to prevent regional “fires” spreading to Lebanon, Reuters reported. The news agency also quoted Aoun as saying that any agreement to end the conflict in Syria must include the return of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon.
AFP contributed to this report.