Hezbollah-led alliance gives ultimatum to Lebanon PM, President


Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television reported on Tuesday that the March 8 coalition had given President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri 24 hours to convene a cabinet meeting or it would take action on its own, according to AFP.

A March 8 delegation – including Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, Amal Movement MP Ali Hassan Khalil, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s aide Hussein Khalil – headed to Baabda Palace Tuesday to meet with the president.

After their Baabda meeting the Hezbollah-led March 8 forces met at Rabiyah to discuss the next move.

Following their Rabiyah meeting Hezbollah Minister Mohammad Fneish spoke on behalf of the March 8 opposition and told the media:

“After we positively dealt with the Syrian-Saudi initiative and provided it with chances of success, it unfortunately reached a dead end due to U.S. meddling and the other camp’s failure to find a solution.”

He added: “Out of our keenness on not letting the country continue to suffer the current paralysis, we contacted the president, who in turn said he will contact the premier.”

Fneish said the march 8 opposition will take the appropriate decision based on the answer they will receive from the premier.

Fneish added : “If tonight or tomorrow morning the cabinet was called to convene, we would resolve all the issues during the session.”

Fneish continued : “The president is required, as the first keeper of the Constitution, to perform his role in activating the work of state institutions and to call on the premier to hold a cabinet session.”

Fneish said that March 8 opposition will meet again tomorrow, following which they will announce their decision.

The Lebanese cabinet has not convened since December 18 due to a dispute between March 8 and March 14 ministers over the issue of the so called “false witnesses” who reportedly gave unreliable testimonies to the international probe into former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 murder.

Saudi and Syrian officials have reportedly been working on a compromise that would resolve tensions in Lebanon over the imminent Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indictment . Reports say that the STL may soon indict Hezbollah members in its investigation of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, father of Saad the current prime minister.

PM Hariri said during an interview with the Al-Hayat newspaper that was published on Friday that the Saudi-Syrian (S-S) agreement on reducing tension in Lebanon had been finalized a long time ago, even before King Abdullah , traveled to New York for the treatment but blamed Hezbollah and its March 8 allies for not living up to their end of the deal.

Hariri also said : “ I will not implement any commitment I made before the other party ( read Hezbollah) implements what it said it would commit to and added ‘anything else is an attempt to sabotage the Saudi-Syrian efforts.”

” This is the major base of the Syrian-Saudi efforts”. Hariri stressed.

Hariri said he decided to break his months-long silence to defend the Saudi-Syrian process against a campaign aimed at distorting it. “I have kept silent for months. Now, I have broken silence just because I am responsible and concerned with protecting this process in the interest of the country and its stability.”

Hariri did not reveal the details of the Saudi-Syrian deal, but his political adviser, Mohammad Shatah, said during an interview on Friday that the Saudi-Syrian deal is aimed at achieving stability in Lebanon, by taking specific steps to reduce political tension, such as restoring contacts between Lebanese factions, ensuring that state institutions return to serving the public and following up on the issue of Lebanese-Syrian ties.

MP Michel Aoun announced today during a press conference that the Saudi-Syrian initiative has failed and blamed March 14 alliance for its failure