By: Ghassan Karam
When the coalition forces of March 8 agreed to bring down the Lebanese Cabinet of Sa’ad Hariri by asking their 11 representatives to resign they started a process that no one at the time would have ever thought to be possible. What has unfolded since then, almost 4 months and counting, would have been comical had it not been so tragic.
The complaints by some that the previous cabinet was brought down by what borders on an illegitimate coup should be dismissed as rationales of frustration by those who lost power. The tactics employed by March 8 were perfectly legal, democratic and proper. My complaint is not about how the cabinet was forced out of office but about the total lack of a plan about what to do next.
Every move taken by the “new majority” since then has been nothing short of amateurish improvisation. The major reason that many were at a loss to explain the reason for the move by the coalition of March 8 to force the Cabinet out of office was the clear lack of an alternative PM. That is why initially it appeared that Sa’ad Hariri will be designated one more time to form a slightly different cabinet. Obviously that line of thinking proved to be wrong as the FPM and others declared that they will not nominate Hariri again. So who would they nominate? It turned out that they had no nominee outside of Mr. Karami whose consideration as a viable PM designate was short lived.
The coalition of the hapless was rescued from its own bungling by no less of a respected politician than Najib Mikati, an ex Premiere himself. Mr. Mikati offered himself as an alternative and muddied the waters. He had been elected to Parliament on a ticket backed up by March 14 and could not commit to the Hezbollah demands of distancing Lebanon from the STL investigating the assassination of Rafic Hariri , the most dominant Sunni political leader in Lebanon. But due to the lack of another viable alternative March 8 forces backed up the nomination of Mr. Mikati and had to apply all their political muscle to get him officially nominated.
If you think that once he was nominated and once March 14 made it clear that they will not join the cabinet then the formation of a cabinet will be accomplished in a matter of days then you would have been wrong. A delay in forming a cabinet made up of many different divergent groups is reasonable but not to be able to agree on a cabinet composition for a cabinet made up of one coalition; that has precipitated the whole governmental crisis; is ludicrous.
Mr. Mikati who is not in a position to alienate his Sunni constituency; that will be sure political suicide; and who never made any public pledges to enact the Hezbollah agenda has had a clear choice right from day one. He has to act as a Premiere for all the Lebanese and must form a cabinet that is effective, capable and that is guided by the welfare of the country. Under the current circumstances this can only mean a cabinet of technocrats who +understand the demands of their respective ministries. This is the time for effective professionals and not the time to train all of these political candidates whose only qualification at times is kinship to a political leader.
Lebanon cannot afford any more amateurish and ideologically driven behavior similar to the calls to eliminate gasoline taxes and to withhold from the government its own funds. That behavior is reminiscent of the childish acts of cutting ones nose to spite ones face.
Mr. Mikati has formed a cabinet of technocrats before and that cabinet of 14 members performed extremely well. He owes it to the Lebanese, to the constitution and to his own conscience to form another cabinet of capable responsible and well experienced ministers. That is what Mr. Mikati should have done four months ago; it’s never too late to do the right thing. Better late than never.