BEIRUT- Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri blasted Hezbollah in a news conference on Tuesday accusing the Iranian backed militant group of being the only party responsible for holding up the government’s formation.
The news conference was Hariri’s first official response to a speech made Saturday by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, during which he insisted on backing the demand made by his Sunni allies for a Cabinet ministry .
Hariri, along with President Michel Aoun, opposed the demands of six MPs , while Hezbollah and ally , the Iranian backed Amal Movement have supported them.
Nasrallah said Saturday that if the MPs were not granted a ministry, the formation process will be back to square one.
“Today it is Hezbollah obstructing government formation, period. And the consequences of [what will happen to] the country will be the responsibility of Hezbollah,” Hariri said Tuesday.
“I did my part, and the president and speaker know this. Let everyone do their part so that the country can move forward.”
The premier-designate also said he is not attempting to monopolize the representation of the Sunni sect, despite what Nasrallah accused him of doing. As proof, he offered up his readiness to allocate former Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s bloc a minister in the next government.
Hariri said that he had refused the Sunni MPs’ demands because they had not formed a coherent political bloc.
“Aoun will name one [Sunni minister], and one I agreed on one for Mikati, who is the only one who came to me who heads a political bloc. What I’m trying to say is that when I went to make a government lineup, I knew there were Sunnis outside [the] Future [Movement], and that’s why I didn’t try to monopolize the Sunni representation,” he said.
Hariri continued that he would not allow Hezbollah, a Shiite party, to place its hand on a matter of Sunni representation. “I am the father of the Sunnis in Lebanon, and I know where the interest of Sunnis is,” he said.
“I know there are Sunnis outside Future. It’s not Hezbollah or anyone else who tells me, ‘You must represent those people or the other.’”
“Things don’t need all this screaming and intimidation,” Hariri added, addressing Nasrallah.
“The constitution tasks the PM-designate with forming the government in agreement with the President and there is no third person that should be involved . Period,” a defiant Hariri added.
Wondering why Hezbolah “did not name one of them from its own share,” the PM-designate warned that the government is a “national necessity” at all levels.
“There is no Lebanese, from Aoun to [Speaker Nabih] Berri to all the commanders and political figures and diplomats and economic figures and journalists, who thought that the six MPs would be made to be a big obstacle, because after the Lebanese Forces obstacle fell, we all thought the government would be announced, and Berri and I were prepared to go to Baabda” Palace to announce the government, Hariri said.
The news conference was just the latest episode in a flurry of activity that has occurred since the MPs resurfaced with their demand late last month, just as the solution to the Cabinet formation deadlock, now in its sixth month, seemed imminent.