Jumblatt tells Aoun to back off of Suleiman


Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Thursday revealed that he has advised Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun against trying to eliminate President Michel Suleiman’s role in the Lebanese political life.

“I told General Aoun when he approached me concerning his demand to get the interior portfolio (in the new cabinet) that there is a president who has played a good role and who cannot be eliminated,” Jumblat said in an interview on LBC TV network.

On January 12, Hizbullah and its allies toppled Saad Hariri’s cabinet in a long-running feud over the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing the murder of former premier Rafik Hariri.

Hizbullah-backed Najib Miqati was then appointed to form a new government, which Hariri’s alliance has refused to join and has labeled “Hizbullah’s government”.

While Saad Hariri and his allies won Lebanon’s last parliamentary election in 2009, shifting alliances today have positioned the Hizbullah-led camp as the majority after Jumblat moved closer to the Shiite party.

“Since there is no fairness in the distribution of portfolios, we are insisting on getting the public works ministry as it’s the only ministry through which we can serve all citizens,” Jumblat told LBC.

He noted that Hariri was referring to him and Miqati “when he spoke of betrayal” in his speech on February 14, the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

“I’m convinced of what I’ve done since 2009,” Jumblat said of his new alliances.

“We engaged in the May 7 adventure following U.S. incitement aimed at cornering Hizbullah after it defeated Israel in 2006, and today the same plot has surfaced again through the STL,” Jumblat noted.

He voiced concerns that the U.S. might try to “financially blockade Lebanon in order to pressure the Lebanese,” adding that the visit of U.S. senators Joseph Lieberman and John McCain to Lebanon this week was “part of that pressure.”