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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: United States of America
3 September 2004


Syria Accused of Imposing Its Political Will on Lebanon

U.S. Envoy to U.N. Danforth explains Security Council resolution

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth said Syria has imposed its political will on Lebanon and is forcing the Lebanese government to amend its constitution and cancel elections.

Danforth made his statement September 2 in an explanation of U.S. support for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 that expressed "strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon."

"The Lebanese Parliament and the Lebanese Cabinet should express the will of the Lebanese people through a free and fair presidential electoral process. What the Lebanese people and we have witnessed over the past week, in terms of Syrian actions, is a crude mockery of this principle. It is clear that Lebanese parliamentarians have been pressured and even threatened by Syria and its agents to make them comply," Danforth said.

Syria has an estimated 17,000 troops in Lebanon. The pro-Syrian President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, has called for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to remain in office for three more years. The current provisions of the constitution stipulate that the president must leave office by November 24 when his non-renewable six-year term expires. The Lebanese parliament is expected to vote on the amendment September 3.

Following is the text of Danforth's explanation of the Security Council vote:

(begin text)

USUN PRESS RELEASE

September 2, 2004

Explanation of Vote by Ambassador John C. Danforth, US Representative to the United Nations, on the Syria-Lebanon Resolution, in the Security Council, September 2, 2004

The Security Council consistently has affirmed that it supports the full sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, free of all foreign forces. We believe Lebanon should be allowed to determine its own future and assume control of its own territory. Yet the Lebanese people are still unable to exercise their rights as a free people to make those choices and take those steps as a nation.

With France we introduced this resolution on Lebanon and Syria and with the co-sponsorship of Germany and the United Kingdom we have asked for a vote tonight because the situation in Lebanon is moving very quickly. The Government of Syria has imposed its political will on Lebanon, and has compelled the Cabinet and Lebanese National Assembly to amend its constitution and abort the electoral process by extending the term of the current president by three years. The final vote in the Assembly is scheduled for Friday, so it is imperative for the Security Council to address this issue now.

The Lebanese Parliament and the Lebanese Cabinet should express the will of the Lebanese people through a free and fair presidential electoral process. What the Lebanese people and we have witnessed over the past week, in terms of Syrian actions, is a crude mockery of this principle. It is clear that Lebanese parliamentarians have been pressured and even threatened by Syria and its agents to make them comply.

We strongly support the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory, including southern Lebanon, as called for by the Security Council over the past four years. The continued presence of armed Hizballah militia elements, as well as the presence of the Syrian military and Iranian forces in Lebanon, hinders that goal.

We believe that this situation, fourteen years after the end of Lebanon's civil war and four years after the Security Council accepted unanimously the Secretary General's report that Israel had complied fully with Security Council Resolution 425, is simply unacceptable. It is wrong for Syria to continue to maintain its forces in Lebanon in flat contravention of the spirit and clear intent of the Taif Accord, and it would be very wrong of Syria to continue to interfere in the presidential electoral process in Lebanon. We have called on the Security Council to carry out its responsibility of supporting the full independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon, free after so many years from all foreign forces, and to support the Lebanese people in their ability to make their own national decisions, free at long last from outside coercion and dictate.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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