BEIRUT: MP Fouad Siniora discussed Wednesday the stalled Cabinet formation process with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, saying the issue is now hands of the president and the prime minister-designate.
“The ball now is the court of President [Michel] Sleiman and the Prime Minister-designate [Tammam] Salam to search for means to form a Cabinet,” Siniora told reporters after his meeting with Rai in Diman, the patriarch’s summer residence.
“It’s either based on the president's proposal or a Cabinet of nonpartisan ministers that could administer the country’s affairs,” he said.
Salam has been struggling for five months to form a Cabinet to replace the current caretaker government but conditions and counter-conditions by rival groups have stalled the process.
Sleiman has proposed a Cabinet equally divided among the March 8 and March 14 parties and centrists.
Siniora along with the March 14 coalition has called for a neutral Cabinet to address longstanding economic and social problems exacerbated by the absence of a functioning government.
Hezbollah and its allies have argued against both proposals, supporting the formation of a Cabinet in which all political parties are represented in proportion to their size in Parliament.
During his chat with reporters, Siniora said Sleiman and Salam’s proposal “was shot down by Hezbollah.”
Siniora said he discussed with Rai the importance of speeding up the formation of a Cabinet “that can resolve ongoing issues and its formation would coincide with the re-launch of National Dialogue to address divisive issues.”
Siniora and the Future Movement said National Dialogue should reconvene to discuss Hezbollah’s arsenal, voicing opposition to Speaker Nabih Berri’s initiative to discuss the Cabinet issue during all-party talks.
"Some of them don't recognize the extent of the danger and the evil coming as a result of the difficult situation in the region and that the Lebanese are already suffering from,” he said.
The two also discussed the Baabda Declaration, an agreement approved by rival parties last year aimed at distancing Lebanon from regional repercussions particularly the crisis in Syria.
“I spoke with the patriarch about the Baabda Declaration and I was present at the dialogue session where the declaration was approved,” Siniora added.
“The declaration was broadcast and everyone read it, some objected to some of the items and they were amended. It was issued with no objections from anyone,” he said.
Future Movement has accused Hezbollah of violating the agreement when the party decided to send fighters to Syria.