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Lebanon News

Hezbollah favors 'political' Cabinet under neutral PM

Lawmakers Hasan Fadlallah, left, and Emile Rahmeh speak during a parliament session in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, April 17, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah favors a “political” government to replace the current caretaker one, the party’s MP said Saturday, adding that an impartial candidate should head the next Cabinet.

Meanwhile, MP Fouad Siniora traveled to Riyadh Saturday along with a Future Movement delegation where he is expected to hold talks with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri about the upcoming parliamentary consultations to form a new Cabinet.

Prior to his departure, Siniora, the head of the Future parliamentary bloc, met with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Place to discuss recent political developments.

“We want a political government even if it’s only to hold the elections,” Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah said during a gathering in south Lebanon. “Our speech has always aimed at partnership, understanding and national unity,”

“Our democracy seeks mutual consent, while the other team sees a national unity government as a heresy because they have a mentality of exclusivity and domination.”

His remarks come at a time when two of the main components of the March 14 coalition, the Future Movement and the Lebanese Forces, have voiced their support for a neutral government, raising the possibility of a prolonged process to form the new Cabinet.

President Michel Sleiman set up two days of binding consultations next week for parliamentary blocs to propose candidates for the premiership. The name that receives the most of the votes will then form the new government.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his resignation March 22 after the majority of ministers from the Hezbollah-lead March 8 group blocked the extension of Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, who is set to retire April 1, as well as a draft law aimed at creating an elections committee to supervise the polls based on the 1960 law in effect.

The majority saw the creation of the committee as a step closer to holding the June 9 polls based on the amended version of the 1960 law, rejected by most politicians.

Fadlallah also said that a “balanced” prime minister should head the next government given deep divisions among Lebanon’s rival factions.

“This period needs a balanced prime minister that is not considered a provocative figure to a substantial number of Lebanese, and does not take sides in the current political polarization,” he said, adding that the coalition is still deliberating potential figures to name as candidates.

Referring to the March 14’s petition handed to Speaker Nabih Berri earlier this week calling for an urgent legislative session to extend Rifi’s term, Fadlallah said Berri is the only official with the authority to convene Parliament regardless of calls and proposals to hold a legislative meeting for any draft law.

A March 14 delegation handed Berri a petition signed by 69 MPs including Mikati to retroactively extend Rifi’s term.

The Hezbollah lawmaker said that Parliament’s regulation stipulate that draft laws be put on the agenda in chronological order, “therefore, the Orthodox Gathering proposal is the first item on the agenda if a session is to convene.”

The Orthodox electoral proposal, which is staunchly opposed by the Future Movement and MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc, mandates that every sect elect its own MPs based on proportional representation.

 

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