Continued presidential vacancy threatens Lebanon's stability – Ban

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

BEIRUT, March 25 (KUNA) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged the Lebanese political party leaders to work together for electing a new head of state as early as possible.
As long as the vacancy of presidency persists, national unity and Lebanon’s standing will remain fragile and incomplete, he said at a joint press conference with presidents of the World Bank (WB) Jim Yong Kim and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Ahmad Mohammad Ali Madani.
Ban renewed commitment to “stability, peace and security in Lebanon,” noting that “Lebanon is hosting the largest number of refugees in the world on individual basis.
“As my visit with President Kim and President Al-Madani is nearly over, I would like to underscore again our strong joint commitment to stability, security and peace in Lebanon,” said Ban.
“President Kim and I saw for ourselves the work being done to help vulnerable Lebanese communities and the Palestinian and Syrian refugees they host.
“During my visit, our visit to Tripoli and the Bekaa, I was very moved by my meetings with Palestine and Syrian refugees and my visit to a social development centre for Lebanese women and young people,” the UN chief went on.
“The United Nations, along with other international actors, is here to assist Lebanon in securing its stability and support its stabilization through humanitarian and development assistance to vulnerable Lebanese citizens, as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees,” Ban underscored.
“The international community will support the Syrian refugees temporarily hosted in Lebanon, until the moment they feel they can return safely and securely to Syria. Lebanon can count on our full support for its vulnerable citizens as well as Syrian refugees,” he added.
He outlined the following four messages the people and leaders of Lebanon; “The first is to reaffirm our strong support for Lebanon as it continues to withstand the impact of the war in Syria.
“The world owes the Lebanese people and authorities a great debt for their generosity in hosting over one million refugees from Syria, in addition to hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees … The international community recognizes this contribution and must support Lebanon in its efforts.
“Continued strong support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, remains vital for the wellbeing and protection of Palestine refugees. … The Palestine refugees in Lebanon deserve our full support.
“I welcome the record commitments made at the London Conference, and I call on donor countries to disburse their pledges as soon as possible.
“Lebanon needs us to bridge the gap between short-term humanitarian assistance and longer-term measures, including programs for education and employment.
“The partnership between Lebanon, the United Nations, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank has made it possible to design an innovative concessional financial facility for Lebanon.
“Through this facility, the government will be able to invest in priority areas that will help people in need and stabilize the country.
“My second message is that Lebanon is, and must remain, a vital example to the region of coexistence and pluralism, at a time of dangerous new power dynamics and violent extremist forces.
“My third message is to reaffirm the United Nations strong support for the Lebanese Armed Forces.
“The death of a brave Lebanese soldier in a bomb attack near the Syrian border yesterday underlines the importance of these forces, not only for Lebanon’s security, but also for regional stability. I am very much encouraged that UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are working closely together.
“I echo the Security Council in calling on Lebanon’s friends in the international community to continue to strengthen the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces.
“Finally, 10 years after Security Council resolution 1701, southern Lebanon has seen the longest period of relative calm since 2006. This is a great credit to UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces.
“But there is still a danger of miscalculation. The United Nations expects Lebanon to continue contributing to progress and to meet all its obligations.
“Lebanon’s ability to thrive also depends on addressing longstanding regional conflicts. The United Nations will spare no effort in seeking to put an end to the conflict in Syria, and to reach a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
“This is a critical period for the region. It is time to stop the violence and end injustice; to give people the opportunities they deserve to build a better life.
“That is why the United Nations will remain strong and unwavering in its partnership with Lebanon,” he added.
The Secretary General, who arrived in Lebanon yesterday on a two-day official visit, inspected the Palestinian refugee camp in Nahr Al-Bared, 16 km to the north of Tripoli city, earlier today. (end)