Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to announce an initiative to form a government based on combined conditions put forward by different political parties, political sources told The Daily Star. Berri is expected to make the announcement at a speech in late August to commemorate the disappearance of Amal Movement spiritual leader Imam Musa Sadr, missing since August 1982 while on a trip to Libya.
Berri is also expected to call on all political parties to practice self-restraint during what is perceived to be a pivotal point in the Lebanese political landscape, in order to preserve unity in the country in the face of mounting security threats.
Separately, ministerial sources told The Daily Star that the status quo on the country’s political scene would be maintained because of fears harbored by different political parties of incidents that might further deteriorate the security situation.
These fears have increased as the war in Syria rages on, becoming more sectarian and spilling over into Lebanon, especially in view of Hezbollah’s involvement there.
Sources added that the recent incidents of tensions flaring up in the Bekaa Valley and in north Lebanon, namely Arsal and Tripoli, are a result of persistent political deadlock and the associated lack of political will.
As regional actors who are influential in Lebanon are also involved in the war in Syria, a political solution to the conflict from the regional level will also be hard to come by, the sources said, a reality that is all the more disconcerting for Lebanon.
Amid these strained circumstances, political sources relayed to The Daily Star President Michel Sleiman’s fear of a power vacuum once his mandate as president expires.
These fears, the sources said, drive Sleiman’s efforts to form a neutral government, in the event that a consensual political Cabinet cannot be formed.
The sources said the president was almost convinced that the West does not object to Hezbollah’s participation in the Cabinet, but opposes it acquiring veto power, believing the blocking third should be granted to the president and ministers loyal to him.
However, the sources said Hezbollah would not permit the formation of a Cabinet in which it did not enjoy sufficient influence, a conviction which has led to doubts that a government can be formed anytime soon.
The sources also highlighted the positive role played by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and his conciliatory stances, which work to keep political parties in dialogue.
Before efforts to find a package solution to the deadlock in Lebanon hit a dead end due to the turmoil in Syria, diplomatic circles had promoted a comprehensive plan to solve Lebanese government formation issues, one that is based on reaching a national unity Cabinet chaired by Hariri.
The diplomats also proposed for a National Dialogue to discuss a new formula to replace the country’s slogan “Army, people and resistance.”
In addition, they called for agreements to be made for major administrative, security, judicial and diplomatic appointments, in order to set the necessary prerequisites to facilitate presidential elections or extend Sleiman’s term.