BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea reiterated Monday his opposition to an all-embracing Cabinet, saying such a government would certainly fail to address regional and domestic issues.
Speaking at an event in Maarab commemorating assassinated former Minister Mohammad Shatah, Geagea also welcomed the launch this week of the trial of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and said “the era of truth and justice has arrived.”
“The wave of assassinations, bombings and threats on a daily basis and the economic collapse necessitates the formation of a harmonious, effective Cabinet capable of making decisions to restore security and calm and lift Lebanon from this decline,” he said at the event titled “The Era of Justice.”
“The only government that can do that should be led by one party and in the right direction. But the other team insists on a Cabinet of national partnership, meaning a government led by two conflicting teams which in turn makes a nongovernment,” he said.
His remarks come as rival leaders voice optimism over the formation of an all-embracing Cabinet based on an 8-8-8 lineup, which was put forward by Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt.
The proposal would give the March 8 and the March 14 coalitions each eight ministers, with “decisive ministers” allotted to each side from the remaining eight ministerial portfolios designated for centrists.
Media reports hinted of a possible rift between the Lebanese Forces and their allies in the Future Movement as the latter has expressed willingness to discuss the formation of an all-embracing Cabinet.
“We all want a government as soon as possible but not any government. A government of contradictions cannot result in anything ... it will suffer from a birth defect that will not even allow it to win Parliament’s vote of confidence,” Geagea said.
He raised doubts that a government representing both the March 8 and the March 14 coalition would be able to draft a ministerial statement or put an end to the proliferation of arms in the country.
“What will its internal and foreign policy be? What will its position be on the crisis in Syria and the Geneva 2 conference while one of its parties participates in the fighting alongside [President Bashar] Assad’s regime?” he asked, referring to Hezbollah.
“Will this government find the killers of Mohammad Shatah and bring them to justice as in the case of those behind the Iranian Embassy bombing?” Geagea asked.
Addressing Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and President Michel Sleiman, Geagea urged the two leaders to exercise their constitutional prerogative in forming a Cabinet and act “based on your own convictions.”
Geagea has repeatedly called for the formation of a neutral Cabinet, rejecting to join a government that would provide political cover for Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria.
Geagea also spoke about the recent assassination of Shatah, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s senior aide, saying his murder was aimed at silencing a voice of moderation in the country.
“They kill someone such as Mohammad Shatah and pretend to wail about the threat of takfiris. They kill symbols of moderation, culture and honorable political work and claim to be fighting extremism,” he said.
The LF leader and Hariri both blame Hezbollah for Shatah’s killing.
Geagea, himself the target of an attempted assassination, said previous assassinations including Shatah’s had targeted one political group and ideology.
“I ask for the assassination files between 2005 and the present time to be added to the assassination case of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri at the international tribunal given that they are all connected,” he said.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, founded in 2007 to probe Hariri’s killing, will begin its trials in absentia this week. It has so far accused five Hezbollah members of involvement in the assassination.
“The era of justice is here, the era of truth for Lebanon has arrived. For the first time in Lebanon’s history, we feel that there is a serious will to achieve justice,” Geagea said.
He slammed critics of the U.N.-backed court, saying those who claim that the international court would harm coexistence “refuse justice and coexistence all together.”