Middle east

Lebanon: Hariri accused Hezbollah party of extending the government formation crisis

On Thursday, Lebanese-Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, accused the Hezbollah party of extending the government formation crisis.

The PM was rejecting Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem claims and the party’s al-Akhbar newspaper that claimed that it was waiting for an indication from foreign powers to form the cabinet.

However, Hariri was denying the claims, and said in a statement on Thursday that the party was maneuvering to prolong the vacuum as it waits on Iran and its negotiations with the United States.

Furthermore, Hariri denied that President Michel Aoun had told him via General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim that he would just nominate five ministers, also the Tashnag minister, in the new 18-member cabinet.

Besides, the president had insisted for obtaining the interior portfolio, but he didn’t grant the government vote of confidence to his son-in-law MP Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement that was founded by Aoun. Hariri refused the suggestion, in what was considered a surprise move.

The PM’s office rapidly denied the allegations, indicating that it did not receive any official comment from Aoun about this subject, which means that those leaking these reports are only trying to blame just Hariri.

The statement also said: As opposed to Hezbollah, which always waits for instructions from Iran before making any move, Hariri is not waiting to please any foreign side in the government formation process.

Indeed, Hariri is only awaiting Aoun’s approval about the formation of a government of experts, in agreement with the amendments that the PM had publicly suggested on February 14, and not through doubtful media information.

The statement also said: Hezbollah is maneuvering to prolong the government vacuum as it waits for Iran to begin its negotiations with the new American administration, while using Lebanon’s stability as a bargaining chip. It also noted that if the FPM was truly seeking to remove confidence from the government, so why Aoun is insisting on obtaining a third of its ministers.

Moreover, it also indicated that Aoun had rejected, during the term of his predecessor, Michel Suleiman, the suggestion that the president nominate any minister in government if he did not boast a parliamentary bloc that could support him. Whereas, the presidency and Hezbollah have not yet respond the Hariri’s denial.

On his part, Bassil issued a statement saying that the government is being held hostage by Hariri, who is not prepared to form it due to foreign factors. He also said that the FPM only has one demand and that is to respect the constitution.

He added speaking to the people: Your government is being held hostage and it can only be regained by appeasing foreign powers or through an internal revolution.

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