Lebanon News

March 14 express explicit desire to topple new government

BEIRUT: The March 14 coalition has signaled its determination to bring down the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati less than two weeks after its formation, setting the stage for a fierce confrontation between the March 8 and March 14 camps.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Thursday that the opposition, or the March 14 parties, are adamant about toppling what they called a government dominated by Syria and Hezbollah by employing all democratic means, including street protests.

“The opposition’s road map with the new government has been clear since the first moment [of its formation], especially since its nature and identity are clear. It [the government] will work to isolate [Lebanon] at the Arab and international levels, thus posing a danger to Lebanon,” Geagea told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.

He stressed that the opposition’s basic plan against the government will be founded on “a democratic basis with the aim of getting rid of this government and bringing it down as soon as possible.”

“This position stems from the government’s composition. It is a government of Syria and Hezbollah. It is Syria’s government because it was formed to serve as a defense line for the Syrian regime [to help it] face its circumstances [anti-regime uprising]. It is Hezbollah’s government because it was formed to face the indictment and the [Special Tribunal for Lebanon],” Geagea said.

Hezbollah and its March 8 allies have called for Lebanon to end its cooperation with the tribunal, investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, dismissing it as “an American-Israeli project” designed to incite sectarian strife.

Geagea accused Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun of inciting sectarian strife with his recent remarks on opening prisons to the opposition and a one-way ticket out of the country for former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Aoun’s remarks “do not express his opinion only, but the opinion of the parties that formed this government. They point to the goal for which the government has been formed,” Geagea said. “[Aoun’s] remarks on Hariri are unproductive and they lead to inflaming strife and targeting a prominent leader in the Sunni community.”

A war of words has been raging since last week between Aoun on the one hand, and the March 14 parties and Hariri’s Future Movement on the other. The exchange of rhetoric began last Saturday when Aoun said Hariri has been issued a “one-way ticket out of Lebanon and the government,” adding that the Future Movement leader’s “era of paralyzing state institutions in a bid to control the country” was over.

Responding to Aoun, Hariri stressed that only the killers of his slain father and their protectors will be sent to jail. Hariri also vowed to stand against anyone who targets any of his Future Movement loyalists, in a clear allusion to Aoun who has threatened to send Future officials to jail.

The March 14 Secretariat General Wednesday slammed Aoun, calling on President Michel Sleiman and Mikati to deal with what they termed the “sick Aoun phenomenon.”

Tripoli MP Samir Jisr said Thursday the toppling of the Mikati government was one of the opposition’s goals.

“Any opposition can bring down a government. This is the core of the opposition’s work. If we succeed in bringing it down, why not?” Jisr said in an interview with LBCI television.

He said the March 14 parties’ decision not to join the government was due to “our desire not to give legitimacy to the coup.”

The March 14 parties and the Future Movement have accused Hezbollah and its March 8 allies of staging a coup that led to the toppling of Hariri’s Cabinet on Jan. 12 following the resignation of March 8 ministers in a long-running dispute over the STL.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 24, 2011, on page 2.




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