BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Opposition against unproductive Dialogue: Siniora

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora talks to reporters in Sidon, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Friday the opposition was against Dialogue that leads to nowhere and not to the principle of all-party talks, according to a statement from his office.

“The March 14 boycott to dialogue is not a rejection to dialogue but opposition to unproductive talks in light of the security threats surrounding [the country],” said Siniora.

The statement said a Future Movement delegation, headed by Siniora, visited Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt at his Mukhtara residence in the Chouf Thursday evening and explained the opposition’s stance to the PSP leader.

The delegation included MP Ahmad Fatfat and Future Movement officials Nader Hariri and Mohammad Chatah.

Siniora also reiterated the March 14 coalition’s call for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati's Cabinet as a preliminary step to take the country to a new stage with less tension.

The March 14 alliance chose to boycott Mikati’s government after the Beirut explosion in October that claimed the life of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, who headed the police’s Information Branch.

The opposition has set the Cabinet’s resignation as a precondition for their participation in National Dialogue, which President Michel Sleiman has urged take place to resolve the government crisis.

PSP official said Friday that the meeting that took place between Jumblatt and the Future Movement delegation was unlinked to an initiative by the PSP to resolve the country’s political crisis.

“The meeting between the PSP and Future officials was scheduled in advance and was not linked to the initiative launched by Walid Jumblatt over the government crisis,” PSP Secretary-General Zafer Naser told The Daily Star.

Officials following up on the meeting said the talks were constructive.

Future MP Ahmad Fatfat told The Daily Star that the once tense ties between the groups had decreased as a result of the recent meeting.

“There might have been a political dispute between the PSP and the Future Movement at one stage but the meeting held in Mukhtara emphasized a lot of positive signs for the ties between the two groups,” said Fatfat.

Both Fatfat and Naser said although the upcoming elections were discussed at the meeting, it was too early for talks about possible future alliances between the former allies.

“We discussed the electoral law, and suggested [holding the elections with] small electoral districts to Jumblatt,” Fatfat said.

“We also told him that if no agreement over an electoral law is reached, the alternative would be to run the elections based on the 1960’s law after it is amended to meet the demands and secure the right of Christians in the country,” he added.

Naser, for his part, said that although Jumblatt favored the 1960 electoral law, the PSP leader remains open to other suggestions and would welcome an agreement between all political rivals over a new electoral law.

As for a change in government, Naser said Jumblatt was clear in the talks and explained his stance to the Future delegation and told them such a change needed to be based on internal consensus.

“The PSP leader reiterated to the gathering the need to resume all-party-talks,” said the source.

As for ties between Jumblatt and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Fatfat said: “We discussed the Hariri-Jumblatt dispute that came to the public’s attention and agreed it was nothing more than a small misunderstanding.”

“Misunderstandings happen all the time and we shouldn’t make a big deal out of the matter,” said Fatfat.

In September Jumblatt, during a TV interview, said he turned down Hariri’s request to withdraw his three ministers from the Cabinet in the wake of Hasan’s assassination. Hariri hit back at Jumblatt, accusing him of belonging to the Iranian-Syrian alliance.

 

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