BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra Saturday criticized the Future Movement for taking part in a government with Hezbollah, but emphasized that the alliance between the two parties remained strong.
Meanwhile, Future Movement Secretary General Ahmad Hariri also reiterated the unity of the March 14 Coalition.
"It is true that differences surfaced among the March 14 forces with regards to participating in the government ... but the coalition remained intact.”
Speaking to a group of Lebanese in Victoria State during a short trip to Australia, Hariri said March 14 was made up of “independent figures who have their own opinions.”
“We are united in our principles, which we will never abandon,” he added.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam formed an all-embracing government last month after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Hezbollah-lead March 8 coalition reached a deal mediated by MP Walid Jumblatt after10 months of political deadlock.
Hariri has said rising Sunni-Shiite tensions and deteriorating security in Lebanon were behind his decision to take part in a new government with the aim of safeguarding the country.
The LF refrained from taking part in the government, demanding Hezbollah commit to the Baabda Declaration, an agreement signed by rival groups in 2012 to distance Lebanon from regional turmoil, particularly the Syrian crisis.
The March 14 coalition has been critical of Hezbollah's role in Syria, blaming the resistance group for the series of car bombings mostly targeting predominantly-Shiite areas associated with Hezbollah.
Media reports have said the dispute over the government has tainted ties between the head of the LF, Samir Geagea, and Hariri.
During a radio interview, Zahra was critical of his allies in the Future Movement and said most of the Hariri’s reasons for joining the government were not convincing.
“The difference between us and our allies in March 14 is that we asked for a written commitment from Hezbollah to accept the Baabda Declaration as part of the policy statement,” he said, referring to ongoing discussion about the Cabinet’s ministerial statement.
He said the LF was not pleased with the Future Movement’s decision but that the two parties remained in contact.
Zahra said he understood reasons behind his allies’ participation in the government, saying: "Hariri has the right to think about the sectarian tensions but the other reasons for participating are not convincing.”
“We don't think we made a mistake by abstaining from participating in the government because we have a certain strategy based on nation building,” he said.
Zahra also spoke about a recent meeting between Hariri and March 14's rival, MP Michel Aoun, saying: “We would have preferred to have found out about the Harir-Aoun meeting from them [the Future Movement] rather than from the media.”
“If the meeting was innocent, as Aoun claimed, why was it kept a secret?” he asked.
Zahra defended the March 14 coalition and said differences between parties were only normal.
“What unites the March 14 coalition is the belief in a state and its institutions, and this alliance was decided by the people rather than political elites ... the alliance is very difficult to break,” he said.