Lebanon News

March 14: Cabinet's departure needed for stability

March 14 official Fares Soueid attends a March 14 meeting in Ashrafieh, Friday, March 3, 2006. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The March 14 alliance blamed Wednesday the Cabinet for the recent assassination of a top intelligence officer and said it would use its decision to boycott parliamentary work as a means to pressure the government to resign.

“The March 14 coalition holds the present government – with its prime minister and the political forces in it – primary responsibility for facilitating the criminal [President Bashar] Assad regime’s plan and regards its departure a principle condition for efforts to ward off dangers and secure stability,” March 14 official Fares Soueid said, reading a statement.

Members in Lebanon’s opposition have accused Syria of being behind the killing of police Information Branch chief Brig. Gen. Wissam Hasan, who was killed in a car bombing in the Beirut neighborhood of Ashrafieh late last week.

“The assassination of Maj. Gen. Hasan in an explosion ... is clear evidence – and with the admission by the present prime minister – of the Syrian regime’s decision to violate Lebanon in fulfillment with its open threats to widen the destruction,” the statement said.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said it was difficult not to link Hasan’s killing with the recent discovery of a plot to transport explosives from Syria to Lebanon by former Lebanese Minister Michel Samaha, who enjoyed close ties to Assad.

Hasan was a key player in the investigation that led to the August arrest of Samaha on charges of collaborating with members of the Syrian regime to plot terror attacks in Lebanon.

The March 14 alliance also vowed to adopt peaceful means to see the “departure of the government.”

“The March 14 coalition, which holds on to its objectives, renews its adherence to continue the struggle through all political, democratic, popular and peaceful means, away from [deviations] toward chaos and strife,” Soueid said.

He added that the “peaceful sit-in in front of the Grand Serail reflects a modern, peaceful, democratic expression for the sake of seeing the departure of the government.”

Responding to reporters’ questions, Soueid reiterated the calls for the government’s resignation and said the group would not participate in National Dialogue until the departure of the Cabinet.

“[At Hasan’s funeral Sunday], former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said two clear statements: ‘There will be no political discussions before the government resigns and no Dialogue before it falls,’” Soueid said.

He also said Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea expressed a similar view.

“This stance [by Siniora and Geagea] is a united stance and united for all March 14 parties,” Soueid said.

He also said the boycotting of parliamentary work was a means to pressure the prime minister to resign.

“[The decision to boycott parliamentary work] confuses ... the government,” he said, adding that it “was a democratic step and is part of recognized means and it is the opposition’s right to use all means to pressure this government to resign.”





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