BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman expressed hope Monday that rival parties would seize the opportunity to form a new government in light of recent international support for Lebanon during talks in New York, as Hezbollah warned against attempts to strip the group of its political legitimacy in any future Cabinet.
“Sleiman hoped that political partners would recognize the importance of the international support for Lebanon evident during the New York meeting and the committees that were created as a result,” a statement from the president’s office said.
“[He hoped] they would honestly work to seize this opportunity by forming a new government in which all parties are responsible and return to National Dialogue to ... preserve the survival of state institutions for the sake of the nation and the affairs of the citizen,” he added.
During last month’s meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in New York attended by Sleiman, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council discussed Lebanon’s volatile situation and vowed to support Syrian refugees in the country, the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese economy.
Speculation, however, surrounds the commitment of donor countries to Lebanon’s fund, which will be created via the World Bank, given the absence of a functioning government.
The rival March 8 and March 14 camps have placed conditions and counter conditions on MP Tammam Salam’s Cabinet lineup, making it almost impossible for the PM-designate to form a government.
Also Monday, Sleiman met MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, at Baabda Palace. The two discussed ongoing contacts to form a new Cabinet under Salam, Sleiman’s office said.
Hours before his meeting with Sleiman, Raad reiterated Hezbollah’s insistence that any future Cabinet ministerial statement include the group’s defense formula, an equation the Future Movement-led March 14 coalition rejects.
“If the formation of the Cabinet is tied to the termination of the formula of the 'Army, the people, and the resistance' then they will be waiting a long time,” Raad said during a ceremony in the Bekaa Valley village of Yahmar, east Lebanon.
“If this formula is taken out of the next Cabinet's ministerial statement, then what will be left of Lebanon and national unity?” he asked.
The March 14 alliance has opposed incorporating the formula in the ministerial statement, saying such the three-way equation had lost its legitimacy after Hezbollah sent fighters to Syria.
“We want to form a government in which all political components in Lebanon are represented based on their parliamentary weights,” he said, repeating another of his party’s conditions.
The March 14 camp has called for a neutral Cabinet made up of non-partisan ministers.