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A Win For Democracy In Lebanon

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President Barack Obama congratulated Lebanon on its peaceful parliamentary elections June 7th. Mr. Obama said that once more "the people of Lebanon have demonstrated to the world their courage and the strength of their commitment to democracy."

Amid a heavy turnout at the polls, Lebanese voters chose members of the March 14 Coalition, headed by parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri, to fill 71 of 128 legislative seats. The Hezbollah-aligned March 8 opposition group won 57 seats. Contrary to pre-election polling indicating a tight race between the two groups, the electoral results give the March 14 coalition an unambiguous parliamentary majority.

In his congratulatory statement, President Obama said, "Government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion, you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate working of the political process above your party. Commitment to these principles of peace and moderation are the best means to secure a sovereign and prosperous Lebanon."

With the elections over, the process of forming a new government in Lebanon now begins. President Obama said that the U.S. "will continue to support a sovereign and independent Lebanon committed to peace, including the full implementation of all United Nations Security Council Resolutions." A series of U.N resolutions have called for the disarmament of all Lebanese militias, including Hezbollah, extension of control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory, and an end to foreign interference in the country.

"It is our sincere hope," said President Obama, "that the next government will continue along the path towards building a sovereign, independent and stable Lebanon."