Lebanon ARF Urges Clarification from President

BEIRUT (Aztag)–A delegation of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of Lebanon–accompanied by newly appointed minister Sebouh Hovnanian–met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud Sunday and asked the president to intervene in the cabinet structuring process–from which the legally-allotted two seats to the Armenian community has been lowered to one.

Last week–Hovnanian–protesting the exclusion of another Armenian from the cabinet–refused to attend government meetings.

During the meeting–Lahoud attentively listened to the concerns voiced by the ARF and Hovnanian.

The sentimen’s expressed during the meeting–echoed an announcement issued by the ARF Central Committee last week–in which the party called into question the motivations behind the exclusion of a second Armenian appointment–and–in the name of the Lebanese-Armenian community–called on prime minister Hariri to rectify the mistake.

Also on this same matter–the ARF Lebanon Central Committee held discussions with the Executive Board of the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party Friday.

In conclusion–the two parties condemned the current disregard demonstrated toward the rights of the Armenian community and urged an immediate change in that policy.

To uphold and advocate for the rights of the community–meetings between the parties will take place frequently in the future.

In order to further address this matter–a Central Committee delegation–accompanied by Hovnanian also visited the Prelate of Lebanon Bishop Gegham Khatcherian. During this meeting–the sides discussed the nuances involved with the government structure and explained that the rights of the Armenian community were being violated.

That same afternoon–the leaders of the three Armenian religious denominations issued a joint announcement calling for the restoration of the community’s rights–and urging the prime minister to appoint a second minister to the 30-person cabinet.

Last week–prime minister Rafik Hariri announced his new cabinet–which included Sebouh Hovnanian as Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs. Per Lebanese law–the Armenian community–based on the number of its representatives within parliament–is entitled to two ministers within the government structure.

On the same matter–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–who is continuing a pontifical visit to the US and South America–issued an announcement expressing his displeasure with the course of events regarding the cabinet appointmen’s.

"The Armenian community in Lebanon is one of seven important communities–and has brought–and will continue to bring–its participation in the reconstruction and enhancement of this country. I still hope that current mistake will be rectified soon," said the Catholicos in his announcement–referring to the violation of rights vis–vis the Armenian community.

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