Harb: Doha is out, Taif is in


Caretaker Labor Minister Boutros Harb said on Thursday that Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati is right in saying that the Doha Agreement has ended.

Harb was citing comments attributed to Mikati regarding the agreement.

“The Doha Agreement was not a permanent national agreement, but rather a one time agreement aimed to move the country out of the constitutional and security crisis it had fallen into at the time,” the National News Agency quoted Harb as saying.

Harb added that its division of power was “exceptional and cannot in any way become a basis for the formation of cabinets in Lebanon.”

“The only agreement that unites the Lebanese in consensus is the Taif Accord, which does not specify any cabinet share percentages for anyone,” Harb said.

“It gives the president and premier-designate the power to form the government, which can only be formed if they both agree on it and sign the formation decree together.”

“It is not permissible for any political team to impose its conditions on the president and premier-designate and suspend the possibility of cabinet formation through this stance.”

A possible reference to MP Michel Aoun who is insisting on eliminating the president’s role in cabinet formation.

The Doha accord was negotiated in May 2008 following a political crisis that culminated in the occupation of West Beirut by Hezbollah-led militiamen.

The accord called for the formation of a unity cabinet in which the parliamentary majority at the time (the March 14 coalition) received 16 ministers, the opposition (March 8) received 11 ministers, and the president received 3.

The Taif Agreement (also known as “National Reconciliation Accord,” or “Document of National Accord”) was an agreement reached to provide “the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon.” Negotiated in Taif, Saudi Arabia, it was designed to end the decades-long Lebanese civil war, politically accommodate the demographic shift to a Muslim majority, reassert Lebanese authority in South Lebanon (then occupied by Israel), though the agreement set a time frame for Syrian withdrawal and stipulated that the Syrians withdraw in two years. It was signed on October 22, 1989 and ratified on November 4, 1989.

The Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah brought down PM Saad Hariri’s government on January 12 over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s imminent indictment which is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri in 2005 .

Mikati, who was backed by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies including MP Walid Jumblatt and Mohammad Safadi, was appointed on January 25 by president Michel Suleiman as PM-designate to form and head the next cabinet , giving Hezbollah and its allies increased leverage in the country and provoking widespread protest.

Jumblatt and his PSP parliament members reportedly switched allegiance to Hezbollah’s PM candidate, following threats by Hezbollah.

Jumblatt, Mikati and Safadi were all elected on March 14 electoral tickets during the 2009 parliamentary elections

Last month U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton accused Hezbollah of hijacking Lebanon’s democracy.

The Lebanese “deserve to have their democracy respected and their voices heard, and not have one element of their society using the threat of force and the potential of violence to try to achieve political ends,” she said.