BEIRUT: Delays in forming a Cabinet only damage Lebanon’s democratic system, said Lebanese Force leader Samir Geagea over the weekend, urging the president and prime-minister designate to get on with the task of forming the next government after six months of political deadlock.
“The delays in forming the government are killing our democratic system and Constitution,” Geagea told the annual conference of the European branch of the Lebanese Forces over Skype Saturday.
“What are both heads of state [President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam] waiting for after six months in order to form the government, particularly given that the stances of political rivals over the new Cabinet formula they desire are now clear?” he asked.
Geagea said that the Constitution grants Sleiman and Salam the right to establish the Cabinet in the form they see fit following consultations with parliamentary blocs.
“If the delay persists then, unfortunately, the presidents are responsible for obstructing the system although this is not their intention,” he said.
Salam was tasked with forming the new Cabinet in April of this year but differences between political rivals have repeatedly stalled his efforts.
Geagea, a leading member in the March 14 alliance, also called for the election of “strong president” arguing against the notion that only a “consensual” head of state could rule.
“I call for the election of a strong president for the republic, one who will implement a certain political program and plan,” the LF chief said.
“It is wrong to say that the president should be consensual,” he said, adding: “It is true that the president of the republic should be for all the Lebanese but this does not mean he should have no opinion or lack a political plan.”
Earlier this week, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt said Lebanon’s new president should be “consensual.”
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said earlier this week that the extension of Sleiman’s term was inevitable should officials fail to form a new government.
Turning to regional affairs, Geagea said Christians should forge ties with moderate Muslims.
“The confrontation in the Middle East is currently between the moderates and the extremists,” he said.
“Christians should ally with moderate Muslims, who form the majority, against all extremism,” he said.
On Syria, Geagea, a supporter of the revolt against President Bashar Assad, said a solution to the crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor had become increasingly difficult.