BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s second in command Sheikh Naim Qassem responded Thursday with a warning to President Michel Sleiman’s hints at the feasibility of forming a fait accompli Cabinet, saying such a government would plunge Lebanon into the abyss.
“We advise against any action that could harm or damage Lebanon but [call for] a government that could help us move smoothly to the next phase, and I think anything besides that will surely plunge the country into the unknown,” Qassem told Al-Manar television in response to Sleiman’s recent comments.
Choosing to form a neutral or a fait accompli government, Qassem added, would create problems.
“This might incite strife and destruction into the reality of the country,” he said.
He nevertheless refrained from saying what steps Hezbollah would take in case the president and the PM-designate form a fait accompli government.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai on Christmas Day, Sleiman hinted at the plausibility of forming a fait accompli Cabinet, saying such an option does not contradict the principle of national unity.
He also indirectly rejected Hezbollah’s reason that a neutral government was not considered a unifying one as opposed to a political government, a demand by the party and its allies in the March 8 coalition.
Sleiman added that the deadline to announcing a government lineup was May 25, 2014, the day his term ends, urging for the swift formation of a Cabinet ahead of that date and as soon as possible.
“The problem is with these definitions of a type of Cabinet ... why do we say that a political Cabinet is unifying, whereas if it isn't a political Cabinet then it is not unifying? This definition is wrong,” he said.
In case a new government fails to gain Parliament’s vote of confidence, the president said, a new PM-designate would be named which would pave the way for the formation of a new one.
Such a government would become a caretaker Cabinet and replace caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s resigned Cabinet.
In his interview, Qassem also noted that there were regional and international states who do not want a government to be formed in Lebanon, saying: “The president should not be part of this game but should shoulder responsibility in his work.”
“A unifying government is the only solution and any other [Cabinet form] is not considered a solution,” the Hezbollah official added.
“If we know in advance the new Cabinet lineup will not gain the vote of confidence then how can that be constitutional? This is a unique precedence,” he said.
He said the idea of a fait accompli Cabinet bears various viewpoints “because some are saying that such a Cabinet could run the country without a vote of confidence while others consider it unrecognizable.”
Qassem also criticized March 14's demand of a neutral Cabinet of nonpartisan ministers by saying: “It is as if he [the president] wants to eliminate all functioning services in the country for the sake of individuals who cannot do the job.”
Qassem added that his party rejected March 14's logic over talks about the presidential election or forming a new government because “their logic is aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than facilitating it, whereas we [seek to] secure the needed circumstances [first] in order to elect a new president,” he said.
The Hezbollah official also noted that the president and the PM-designate have a responsibility to “offer what is in the best interest of the country.”