BEIRUT: Hezbollah again rejected Wednesday an old proposal for a 24-member Cabinet, reiterating its demand for the formation of a government in which all political parties are represented in proportion to the size of their representation in Parliament.
The proposal for a 24-member Cabinet equally divided among the March 8 and March 14 parties and centrists – a reference to President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and MP Walid Jumblatt – was first made by Salam shortly after he was named on April 6 to form a new government. However, the proposal has been rejected outright by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies.
The remarks by Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem were viewed as a response to Sleiman and Salam, who were reported to have revived the three-eight Cabinet formula after attempts to form a neutral, nonpartisan government had foundered in the face of strong opposition by the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance.
“We are keen to see the formation of an all-embracing government capable of shouldering the burden of reinvigorating and protecting Lebanon from the dangers and crises surrounding the region,” Qassem said in a statement after meeting a delegation from the Jabal Amel Ulama Association.
“No government can succeed unless all the parties are justly represented in it,” he added.
Citing media reports about the revival of the three-eight formula and saying that the March 14 parties had dropped their opposition to Hezbollah’s participation in the government, Qassem said: “The fact is that matters are back to square one. There is nothing new in what is being proposed. The conditions announced by the March 14 parties have been the same ones since the first day. These are isolationist and not unifying conditions and do not fit for Lebanon in this stage.”
Reiterating that Hezbollah and its allies demand the formation of a government in which all the parties are represented according to their political clout in Parliament, Qassem said: “We will not accept a government with an unbalanced representation. We are not seeking ministerial posts in which we [have no role]. This is the case with the 8-8-8 Cabinet.”
Sleiman Wednesday renewed his call for the formation of an all-embracing government in which all the political parties shoulder responsibility in resolving the country’s worsening political and socio-economic problems.
He also reiterated his call for the resumption of National Dialogue between the rival March 8 and March 14 leaders in a bid to seek ways “to defend Lebanon in the face of the dangers, particularly the Israeli threat.”
He spoke during a meeting with a delegation representing private sector institutions at Baabda Palace.