In an address to the nation on the night of his election, president-elect General Emil Lahhoud last night promised the nation of little talk and much work. Lahhoud added reform starts from the top. Lahhoud dedicated a special salute to the Lebanese of the South and the Western Bekaa praising their steadfastness and strong will-to-stay. The president-elect also reiterated the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the peace process.
In his statement, Lahhoud also appreciated the Lebanese people's trust in him and their hopes for change. The new president said he was aware of the people's expectations that focus on changes towards betterment on the political, administrative, economic, social, and other levels, expectations that reinforce the Lebanese people's confidence in their country, their attachment to it, their trust in their government, and their faith in the future.
Lebanon's president-elect General Emil Lahhoud this morning received the US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield. Satterfield carried a congratulatory message to Lahhoud from US President Bill Clinton on his presidency.
The United States had also issued an official statement yesterday welcoming the election of Lahhoud. US Foreign Ministry Spokesman James Rubin said Lebanon's upcoming president has shown an outstanding performance as the commander of the Lebanese Army during a period of nine years. The spokesman added Lahhoud succeeded in rebuilding the Lebanese Army forces into a united national institution after the war years.
The official statement also said Lahhoud and the government are cooperating in building the government's institutions, continuing the country's reconstruction bid and boosting the process of national reconciliation.
Rubin added the American Administration wishes the president-elect the best and is looking forward to work with him when he takes up office officially next month.
Lebanon's next head of state, General Emil Lahhoud, also received a phone call yesterday from French President Jacques Chirac congratulating him on his election. Chirac hoped Lahhoud will succeed in his new mission and wished Lebanon the best in the upcoming phase.
The Elysee Palace issued a statement in this regard which was distributed to the Lebanese media by the French Embassy in Beirut. The statement said President Chirac reiterated his ongoing support to Lebanon stressing the special place of this country in the hearts of the French people. Chirac also said he believed the upcoming president will continue the work of his predecessors in boosting bilateral ties between Beirut and Paris. The French President also invited Lahhoud to pay France an official visit in the near future.
The French Foreign Ministry expressed similar sentiments and received with satisfaction the election of Lahhoud. The news of Lahhoud's election was reported yesterday in a number of French TV and Radio stations.
No official British stance was issued yesterday concerning the election of General Emil Lahhoud as the next president of the Lebanese Republic. Lebanon specialist at the British Foreign Ministry said Britain does not comment on the internal affairs of any country in the world.
But the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) yesterday reported the news of the election saying Lahhoud won the votes of all present 118 deputies in parliament. The BBC report also said Lahhoud enjoys great reputation in Lebanon adding he succeeded in uniting the army, which was split during the Lebanese war years.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's ambassador to Britain Mahmud Hammoud welcomed the election of Lahhoud as next president. He added Lahhoud represents the expectations of the Lebanese people in a state of law and institutions, which guarantees the unity of land and people.
Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam today held talks over the phone with president-elect General Emil Lahhoud. Khaddam congratulated him on his upcoming presidency. Meanwhile, Syrian Defense Minister, Mustafa Tlas said General Emil Lahhoud worked hard during a period of nine years on boosting the military institution and transforming it into a national and united institution. Tlas added Lahhoud's election as Lebanon's upcoming head of state highlights solidarity between the Lebanese and Syrian peoples. The Syrian Defense Minister also welcomed Lahhoud as a brother to Syrian Leader Hafez Al-Assad.
Meanwhile, Radio Damascus yesterday aired a report on the election of Lahhoud and his profile. The report said Lahhoud managed to rebuild Lebanon's military institution, which was fractured during the war years.
The report also praised Lahhoud's commitment to the support of the Lebanese Resistance in the face of Israeli occupation.
For its part, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak congratulated General Emil Lahhoud for his election as Lebanon's next president. Egypt's ambassador to Lebanon, Adel Al-Khodari, today handed Lahhoud a congratulatory letter from Mubarak in this regard.
Lahhoud also received today congratulatory messages from Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and a number of Arab and foreign officials.
At the presidential palace this morning, President Elias Al-Hrawi received Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Discussions centered on the upcoming phase in addition to a number of regional developments.
Hariri then left Baabda heading for Bloudan, Syria where he is scheduled to hold talks with Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam and a number of high-ranking officials in the Syrian leadership. Talks will center on both the local and the regional situation. Hariri and Khaddam will also tackle the prospects of the new phase that awaits Lebanon with the election of its new president.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri said Lebanon has entered a new phase adding the Lebanese people are optimistic about this coming period. Hariri reiterated his absolute readiness to stand by the new president and fully cooperate with him in the process of making Lebanon a better place.
Hariri was speaking last night to the reporters of the Grand Saray. He added regional and international support for General Lahhoud's election would reflect positively on Lebanon's development, stability, and economic prosperity.
Israel early this morning shelled the outskirts of Tibnin, Jabal Al-Zaatar, Baraasheet, Haddatha, Wadi Al-Hojeir and Ayta Al-Jabal.
Last night, Israeli heavy artillery shelling targeted the northern outskirts of Touline in addition to the villages of Ghandourieh, Froun, Wadi Al-Hojeir, Yater and Qabreekha. The shelling originated from Israeli positions in Mhaydeeb, Taibeh, Al-Abbad, and Tallat Al-Sheikh.
The Lebanese Resistance retaliated by attacking the Qantara and Beit Yahoun outposts, saying in a statement it scored direct hits inside the positions.
For its part, the Amal Movement carried out an operation against Israeli positions in the hills of Salaa and Qseir and in the villages of Blat and Sojod.
In another development, an Israeli military spokesman in the South today said Israel has filed a complaint to the April cease-fire monitoring group over alleged resistance mortar shells that were launched from South Lebanon targeting the Galile. For its part, the resistance earlier denied the Israeli claims stressing its groups shelled the border Israeli position of Berkat Reesha that lies to the east of the occupied villages of Yareen and Boustan.
Citizens of Lebanon,
Today parliament, represented by all of its members, bestowed on me its invaluable trust when it elected me as president of the Lebanese Republic. I appreciate this trust, made on behalf of you all, and I'm aware of its weight and the enormity of the responsibility that I've been asked to shoulder.
On this day, you're stands are united in supporting me, and I'm aware of your great expectations.
These are expectations that focus on changes towards betterment on the political, administrative, economic, social and other levels that are important to each and everyone of you; expectations that reinforce your confidence in your country, your attachment to it, your trust in the government and faith in the future.
Citizens of Lebanon,
On this day, I'm aware that you, especially the younger generation, have many questions, doubts and feelings of alienation. This situation makes you rightfully look for answers. I also know that one answer may be a substitute for many answers, expressing your ambition for a government that is serious, just, capable, understanding, concerned, aware, governed by the law, run by institutions, enjoying security, freedom and prosperity and devoid of corruption. All of that is possible with you and impossible without you.
On this day, I salute the steadfastness of our compatriots in the south and the western Bekaa who are supporting their army in resisting Israel's occupation and bow to the martyrs who have fallen while defending their rights and dignity. I would like to say to those martyrs: you're in the country's conscience and memory and will remain in the heart and conscience of a government endeavouring to end the occupation. Our perpetual concern is to reach a just peace together with Syria, based on a commitment to a comprehensive withdrawal by the occupiers and the rejection of partial or separate solutions.
Citizens of Lebanon,
I have few promises, many tasks and much hope. I will try my best to be the example in every aspect called for by duty, requested by the law and made inevitable by responsibility. I urge anybody who will occupy a public post to do the same because I believe that reform starts from the top. May God open the way for you and I to achieve the good deeds we have in mind.
Long live the Lebanese, long live Lebanon.
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