Lebanon News

Future: ‘Refloating’ Cabinet not viable

The Future Movement bloc warned that the caretaker Cabinet was causing harm.

BEIRUT: The Future parliamentary bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Tuesday that “refloating” the caretaker government was unconstitutional, reiterating calls for the swift formation of a nonpartisan Cabinet.

The bloc also hailed recent stances made by President Michel Sleiman, saying these indicated he was protecting the Constitution.

“The current [caretaker] Cabinet is causing massive harm and damage and according to the Constitution, it cannot be refloated and can only carry out a narrow scope of activities,” the bloc said in a statement after its weekly meeting under former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora at Hariri’s downtown residence.

“The bloc and the majority of Lebanese believe that ... solving the country’s problems can be done through forming a nonpartisan government before it is too late.”

The bloc called on Sleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to form a government as soon as possible.

The bloc praised recent stances taken by Sleiman, saying his comments and acts proved he was the protector of the Constitution, National Pact and state institutions.

“This gives hope that the nation has someone to protect it and that the country has a president devoted to its interests,” the bloc said.

Sleiman said Monday that he opposed attempts by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to convene a session for the caretaker Cabinet, saying there was no reason to make such a move.

Sleiman called instead for forming a government to oversee the election of a new president next spring. The constitutional period to elect a new president begins on March 25, two months prior to the expiration of Sleiman’s term.

Mikati said earlier this week that he was considering chairing a session of the caretaker government to address pressing state matters and security threats. The move is supported by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.

Earlier Tuesday, Siniora called for the formation of a government to facilitate the election of a new president.

“Presidential elections should be discussed in the upcoming phase, but the priority now is for the government. We should be determined to respect the Constitution,” Siniora told reporters after visiting the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut, Bishop Elias Awdeh, with a delegation of Future Movement MPs.

“Free and democratic elections should take place to select the person who can assume responsibilities and respect the principles and values that Lebanon was founded on, which the current president best expresses these days,” Siniora said.

Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad said any new president or government should be supportive of the resistance and preserve Lebanon’s independence.

“Any government or president that Lebanon can have, that all Lebanese demand, is one committed to the patriotic path of resistance and eager to preserve free national decisions by not allowing Lebanon to become dependent on a regional state or be under international tutelage,” Raad told reporters after visiting former President Emile Lahoud at his Yarze residence.

Raad, who heads Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, accused the March 14 coalition of attempting to create a vacuum in the presidency and preventing the caretaker Cabinet from convening.

“There is a caretaker government that should carry out its duties and not abandon its responsibilities,” Raad said. “There is an intention to create a vacuum in Lebanon on all levels, and this is clearly being pursued by the March 14 coalition that is preventing Parliament and the caretaker Cabinet from convening and disrupting efforts to form a new government,” Raad said.

“It intends to prevent the holding of a presidential election, and this will push the country toward a vacuum in the presidency, whether intentional or not,” he said.

Raad said he believed Sleiman made hasty remarks when he said that Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah made “reckless” accusations against Saudi Arabia, claiming the nation stood behind the twin suicide attacks that targeted the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last month.

Raad said Nasrallah had solid evidence on Saudi Arabia’s involvement, which the leader announced during an interview last week.

Raad said Nasrallah had more evidence that he did not disclose.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused Hezbollah of violating the Constitution and distorting it to serve its own interests.

“There are some in Lebanon that still insist on violating this Constitution, causing us to regress to bygone eras,” Geagea said during a seminar on human rights held at his Maarab residence.

“Lebanon, the pioneer of freedom in the Levant, has declined to the lowest levels in its democratic practices, as the interpretation of the Constitution changes depending on the needs of the resistance,” Geagea added.

Separately, Nasrallah will touch on political developments in a speech Sunday during a memorial ceremony for assassinated Hezbollah commander Hassan Hawlo Lakkis, according to the party’s spokesperson.

In another development, media reports said Tuesday that security bodies in the country were put on alert in light of reports that explosions could target churches and Christian areas during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 11, 2013, on page 4.




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