Aoun: Domestic obstacles against cabinet formation are gone


MP Michel Aoun revealed on Friday that there are no longer domestic obstacles hindering the formation of a new cabinet.

“The domestic obstacles are gone, and when the cabinet is formed, everyone will know the concessions I made ,” Aoun told the press following his Change and Reform bloc meeting in Rabieh.

He also said that he can help in resolving “any foreign obstacles” to the cabinet formation.

“When the cabinet is formed, we will agree on its Ministerial Statement,” the MP added.

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

Lebanon has been run by a caretaker government since last January. Nagib Mikati was appointed in January as the PM designate with the backing of the Hezbollah led-March 8 alliance, MPs Jumblatt and Mohammad Safadi . March 14 leaders have repeatedly said that intimidation from Hezbollah’s weapons helped secure the parliamentary majority for Mikati’s nomination.

A dispute over the Interior Ministry portfolio between President Michel Suleiman and MP Michel Aoun was blamed for the delay in the formation of a new cabinet headed by Mikati.

According to analysts Hezbollah is hiding behind Aoun’s demands for the ministries of Interior , Communications and justice in order to have full control of Lebanon’s security when STL indictments are issued and made public.

During his last speech Hezbollah chief made optimistic statements about the cabinet formation and Aoun’s remarks today reflect Hezbollah’s optimism.

According to a report by al Hayat newspaper a recent meeting between Saudi and Syrian representatives may have paved the way for the formation of the cabinet.

Aoun attacks Rifi

Aoun criticized the recent meeting between Internal Security Forces (ISF) General Director Ashraf Rifi and US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly.

“According to the law, Rifi cannot even meet with the Lebanese premier in the absence of the interior minister.” Aoun said.

But Interior Minister Ziad Baroud quit following last week’s incident at the Telecommunications Ministry’s building in Adliyeh and it is not clear how Aoun can him to participate in such a meeting.

“The meeting between Rifi and Connelly was unfortunate and we hope the US ambassador would respect the Vienna Convention that determines diplomatic conduct.”

He reiterated that Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar should take legal measures against Rifi over last week’s incident in Adliyeh.

Reports have revealed that the reason behind Nahhas’ attempt to take over Ogero’s telecom network that was on the second floor of the Telecommunications Ministry was because of Syria.

There were rumors that the network which was donated to Lebanon by the Chinese was being used by the opposition in Syria, but according to experts the network has not yet been put into operation. The experts also believe that even if the equipment was operational it could not be of help to the Syrian opposition in any way.

ISF Chief Ashraf Riffi did not allow Nahhas, who was reportedly accompanied by Hezbollah gunmen , to take over the Ogero network.

Former Minister for Communications and MP Marwan Hamadeh who attended the parliamentary telecommunications committee meeting on Monday ( to discuss the incident) said in an interview with al Hayat newspaper that the intervention by Nahhas was unconstitutional and against the and laws of the land.