The Guardians of the Cedars issued the following communiqué:

Now that the mess of the municipal elections is over, and with it the crowd of contestants and the war of slogans, photos, banners and the composition of electoral lists, there is clearly a need for the opposition to do some soul-searching to evaluate the gains and losses it garnered from these elections. The following are some considerations:

Observers agree that the opposition ended up on the losing side of the battle, irrespective of the few seats it won in some districts and considering that these small victories won't make a dent in the march to freedom and liberation to which the Lebanese people yearn.

The opposition lost a little of its popularity when it shoved itself into the narrow mazes of family disputes and sectarian allegiances, and ignored the fact that the political criteria that apply to parliamentary elections do not necessarily apply to municipal and mayoral elections, especially in Lebanon where family networks often overrule partisan commitments.

The push by major opposition leaders for personal gains led to the widening of the splits within the ranks of an already divided opposition, which in turn made it lose some of its political and moral standing to the benefit of the loyalists and the occupation behind them who saw their standing reinforced.

The total focus by the opposition on the municipal elections battle distracted people from their main battle against the Syrian occupation, which exploited the situation by presenting itself as a respectable occupation which encourages the democratic game in Lebanon. After all, elections are the practical expression of democratic life.

The acceptance by the opposition of the principle of participating in elections under occupation made it lose some of its credibility by engaging it unknowingly in the Taef process and recognizing its legitimacy. Especially since the occupation directly supervised the elections and blatantly interfered in its details and proceedings, as admitted by the audiovisual and written media.

Finally, two points need to be made: First, people will discover soon after this mess is over that these elections, to which they were pushed in an unprecedented manner, are no more than a bubble or a storm in a teacup. Second, had the opposition held on to its previous position of boycotting the elections like it did in 1992, it would have brought down the Taef regime long ago and would have destabilized the Syrian regime behind it.

Lebanon , at your service,

Abu Arz,

04 June 2004