President Emile Lahoud Speech of Oath in the Lebanese Parliament:
I swear to mighty God
that I respect the Constitution of the Lebanese Nation and its Laws and
Guard the Independence of the Lebanese Country and the Safety of its
When you esteemed
Parliament bestowed on me its invaluable trust by electing me President
of the Republic and against the backdrop of reactions filled with
expressions of hope and support for this trust, feelings of appreciation
mixed with the sense of responsibility grew in me, I realized, from the
very beginning of this journey, that the demands were many. Indeed, too
many. I tried to push aside the bouts of anxiety which subsided only
when I told myself that this is a position from which I could at least
do something for my nation, and put my trust in god. And I did. It is
at a moment like this that all controversies and problems reveal
themselves at once, shuffling priorities to the extent that one is at a
loss as to where he must start. I chose to discuss the most important
aspect for us as a state, be it on the level of authorities or
officials, and that is the respect for the law and its implementation.
Yes, respect for the law and its implementation.
In this country, rules
and those ruled are united in complaints and skepticism. This is
because the language of the law is often absent and often purposely
This will be my
language from the beginning to the end.
The beginning was the
oath I took a few moments ago before you in which I pledged to respect
the constitution, the state and the law. I wonder, why is it only the
president and not any other authority who takes the oath? My response
is that when the head of state is under the law, no one else may be
above the law. And I will be under the law. As authorities and
officials we are in our positions by virtue of the law. Under no
circumstances, not even at the peak of the feelings of strength, must we
forget that the power we exercise is the power of the law, not our own.
Yes, we are able to rule because of the power bestowed on us by the law,
not because of our own personal strength.
There will be no
future for anyone, ruler or subordinate, in this country without the
rise of the state of laws and institutions within a democratic
parliamentary system. As you all know, people are yearning for change
and their reasons are both known and legitimate. And to the degree that
it is impossible to effect all of the required change at the same time,
it is equally un-acceptable not to start somewhere. Therefore, what are
people looking for?
The people are looking
to us, rulers and officials, to respectfully represent them in
everything we say, for our say to be responsible and for our actions to
be equally responsible and a reflection of what we say.
They are rightfully
seeking an honest judiciary independent of all forms of intervention or
influence on its members of rulings; a judiciary with which everyone, no
matter how influential of humble, will have to reckon with. Yes, a
judiciary that everyone, the influential personalities like the humble,
will have to reckon with.
They want an
administration that will be strictly supervised, characterized by
honesty and expertise, run by officials whose immunity is derived from
their professional performance, not from political or sectarian
protection. They want an administration from which they can obtain
services by paying taxes, not by bribery as well as taxes. Yes, they
would buy the services with taxes, but not bribery and taxes.
citizens, are aware of the depth of the socio-economic crisis. It is
their right, when we solicit their help in solving the problem – and
they are prepared to help – to ask about the type of economic and
financial policy that would be adopted, its burdens, its cumulative
effects and it targets. It is their right to enjoy an equitable and
fair taxation policy, calculated according to assets, whereby the needy
will not be forced to shoulder the burdens of the fortunate.
citizens, want achievements to be guided by laws and regulations, so
that every doubt or complaint may be laid to rest. It is their right to
be kept aware of how tax revenues are being spent; how spending is being
curbed, how contracts and projects are being implemented; how public
investments are being managed; how public funds are being monitored –
obligatory monitoring before it is spent, with follow-up during every
step of implementation. It is the right of citizens to demand that we
exercise austerity, before requesting them to tighten the belt. It is
their right in general that no figure remain a state secret and before
anything else, it is their right to see how the diligent and honest are
rewarded and how the thief is resolutely punished, irrespective of who
he is, just like the corrupt, the wasteful and those receiving bribes
would be punished. Yes, it is their right to see the thief, the
wasteful, the corrupt and those receiving bribes resolutely punished.
People, and especially
youth, want attention to be paid to educational, social, health,
humanitarian, and environmental issues: Therefore, poverty must not
prevent education. Therefore, poverty must not prevent health.
Therefore, poverty must not prevent employment. Therefore,
environmental crimes must not continue. Therefore, the displaced must
not remain outside their lands.
emigrant must not forget his homeland. Therefore, we must not stake our
politics on sectarianism.
People, all people,
want to know what about our relationship with Syria; yes, they want to
know. It is legitimate, especially for the youth, the questions arise,
and answers be available. To them, I say: since the beginning of the
civil war in 1975, Syria undertook repeated and serious initiatives to
bring it to an end. On the other side, there were counter-wagers, in
which some became involved; these transformed Lebanon into an arena of
blood-letting and attrition. I say also, to whoever does not know these
facts, and particularly to those who do not wish to hear them, that had
the Lebanese, and especially some of those who were in power at the
time, had they comprehended the essence of the Syrian initiative that
was launched by the true brother of Lebanon, President Hafez Assad, the
killing and destruction would not have continued until only recently.
A great political
mistake has been committed against Lebanon; yes, against Lebanon, when
some in the past behaved as if the relationship with Syria was a
temporary wager. We would depend on this relationship while we were
weak, and seek to undermine it when we were strong. We would adapt to
this relationship when it was strong, and seek to deny it when it was
weak, ignoring the fact that we grow stronger, or weaker, together.
Our relationship with
Syria is one of history, land, and people. It cannot be a wager or
temporary adaptation, but a historic destiny, and a strategic option.
My experience with building the army has given me the belief and proof
that Syria, through its president, its people, and its army, wants what
is best for Lebanon, and gives unlimited support to the Lebanese state.
Haven’t the Lebanese , and I mean those in positions of authority,
learned to employ this support in the building of their state and their
institutions? The people will come to appreciate them, and Syria as
well, instead of this support being employed by these officials for
their own benefit, earning them people’s condemnation, and hurting Syria
in the process.
What the Lebanese want
most of all, and I repeat, what the Lebanese want most of all, is the
South, and people of the South. Yes, the South, and the people of the
From this forum, I
salute those who remain steadfast, those who are resisting, those who
have fallen as martyrs, and those who support their army as it faces
Israeli occupation. To them I say: The greatest national cause is you,
and removing the occupation from among your midst.
Lebanon has been of
the belief that a permanent, comprehensive, and just peace is a vital,
strategic option. It participated, out of this belief, in the 1991
Madrid conference on the basis of implementing United Nations
resolutions, and the principle of land for peace. But years have now
passed since this conference, and Israel continues to deal individually
with various Arab parties, to establish with each a half-peace, yes, a
half-peace, thereby uniting Israel, and dividing the Arabs.
Israel has recently
undertaken a wide-scale media and political campaign, to try and show
the Lebanon refuses Israel’s withdrawal from its land, according to
Resolution 425. But in reality, Israel has its own concept of
implementing Resolution 425, which does not conform to Lebanon’s
interest, or national dignity. Therefore, our answer has been to reject
giving guarantees and arrangements for a withdrawal, which would give
comfort to Israel at our own expense. We have said that guarantees of
any kind, and given to all, will come through peace, a complete peace,
and not a piecemeal deal.
A complete peace, in
our mind, means that Lebanon has a historic, permanent, higher, fixed
national interest, which requires, whatever the circumstances or
considerations, the indivisibility of negotiation tracks with Syria’s,
on the basis of a total and equal Israel withdrawal from the South and
Western Bekaa, and the Golan, according to United Nations resolutions.
Only in this way peace become, in all its circumstances and results, for
all, and include security and other interests.
The sisterly Arab
state, which we thank for all that it has given to Lebanon in the past
and at present, is a repository of affection, fraternal relations, and
support. We depend on it to face the burdens resulting from Israeli
occupation, and to achieve recovery on the path of reconstruction and
development. A fully recovered Lebanon is a benefit for all Arabs, as
they are themselves participating in its recovery. Lebanon’s sons
consider each Arab country as their own. I sincerely hope that Lebanon
will remain the object of concern of their Arab brethren, which will
lessen the negative effects of the destruction of the past, as well as
the burdens of the present, and future eras.
I also look forward to
cooperation with the friendly countries of the world, and I single out
for thanks those that have supported Lebanon in the fields of expertise,
economics, reconstruction projects, and development, and those that
support Lebanon at international occasions, in the hope that the concept
of a just and comprehensive peace has become the language of cooperation
upon whose basis we build the future.
I want the people to
know that we are in a democratic, parliamentary system, in which change
takes place subject to custom and criteria, and in which the authorities
are subject to principles and statues, in which the powers are specified
for each and among them, so that no one of them alone may effect the
Therefore, I say to
the people: I do not claim to possess a magic wand that will achieve the
hoped-for results overnight, but I do possess the intent and the
determination, yes, I possess the intent and the determination. I
extend my hands to all, for whatever is good, proper, and just.
I say to the people:
Is it inevitable that there will be a beginning; yes, there will be a
beginning. Do not rush to judge the faces and names, whoever they may
be. Await the deeds, for in them lies the answer.
You are the arbiter,
and judgment will be yours. O Lebanese, you are the arbiter, and
judgment will be yours.
Long Live Lebanon.