Lebanon’s rival Muslim groups sign reconciliation agreement

September 9th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Beirut, Sep 9 (DPA) Sunni and Shia rivals in northern Lebanon signed a reconciliation accord aimed at restoring state control to the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanese media reported Tuesday.For two months, the northern port city of Tripoli has witnessed sectarian fighting between Sunni militants loyal to the Western-backed ruling majority and members of the Alawiites sect who are loyal to the Hezbollah-led opposition.

At least 23 people were killed in Tripoli during clashes in May between residents of Jabal Mohsen, who mostly support the radical Shia Hezbollah movement, and those in Bab al-Tebbaneh who back the anti-Syrian ruling bloc.

The accord was signed in the home of Tripoli’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Malek al-Shaar, who oversaw the talks between Prime Minister Fouad Seniora and political leaders from different factions in Tripoli.

“Tripoli is a single, unified city where there is no difference between Lebanese and Lebanese, Muslim and Muslim or Muslim or Christian. We are all Lebanese,” Seniora said in a televised speech from Shaar’s home before the agreement was signed.

“Tripoli needs to be a city free of weapons. Weapons don’t protect anyone,” he said before reading out the text of the accord.

The six-point Tripoli Document calls for armed men to withdraw from the streets, security forces to deploy, people who fled their homes to return under army protection and compensation for material losses.

Seniora called the agreement a contract which all sides should commit to and abide by, and said “the state will play a complete role” in keeping the peace.

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