Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea warned on Monday that President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam could be on course for undermining the country’s political system because they have failed so far to form a new cabinet .
“I don’t know what President Suleiman and PM-designate Salam are waiting for concerning the formation of the cabinet ” Geagea said during a Monday interview on MTV.
“The hesitation of Suleiman and Salam has become harmful,” Geagea stressed
“There’s an agreement within March 14 that Suleiman and Salam should push forward the formation of the new government, and if they do not react they will be responsible for undermining the Lebanese democratic system,” Geagea added
Asked whether their hesitation was due to regional developments, Geagea said: “We cannot wait for the outcome of the rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran.”
“Even if the United States and Iran reach an agreement, what would that change in Lebanon? It will change nothing,” he noted.
“Suleiman is the country’s president and Salam is the PM-designate … and they must shoulder their responsibilities,” Geagea warned
He called on Suleiman and Salam to “form the cabinet they see fit,” noting that the parties would decide later whether to grant it their vote of confidence or not.
“The constitution gives [the president] the right to form a government. Let him form one and if Hezbollah wants to stage a revolution against it , let it stage it.” Geagea said adding: We must not always contemplate over Hezbollah’s possible reaction before making any move, as that would bestow legitimacy on its behavior”.
“I believe that a neutral cabinet would win a vote of confidence,” Geagea stressed, adding: “In my opinion a cabinet that can work at the moment is neither a March 8 cabinet nor a March 14 cabinet, but rather a neutral cabinet.”
Geagea criticized the attention given to Jumblatt’s stance over the cabinet formation:
“Suleiman and Salam are giving too much importance to (Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid) Jumblatt’s stance and they must meet and decide what they want, and accordingly, Jumblatt and others would build their stances,” Geagea pointed out.
The LF leader said that “extending the mandate of the president should be the exception rather than the rule and this exception happened during the hegemony era.” A possible reference to the period when the Syrian army occupied lebanon for nearly 30 years.
“President Suleiman has personally told me that he does not intend to extend his mandate … On May 25, a new president must be in the Baabda Palace,” Geagea stressed.
“Every parliamentary bloc has the duty of going to the session of electing the president or else it would be committing high treason,” he added.
Turning to the issue of the presidential election that is due to take place in 2014, Geagea said that he is not for the time being a candidate for the presidency , but this could change anytime.
“For now, I don’t consider myself to be a candidate for the presidency, but I might become a candidate at any given time and I will not shy away if I find it necessary to be a candidate,” Geagea said.
Oil, gas resources
Geagea also addressed the latest developments regarding Lebanon’s gas and oil resources, implicitly criticizing Hezbollah’s stance over the issue.
“Some want to link the armed struggle against Israel to justify their existence. Some are looking for a new Shebaa Farms in the ocean and want the struggles with Israel to continue and that’s why they want all maritime blocks to be put under contract.”
Hezbollah has been threatening Israel over the maritime exclusive economic zones centers and has been accusing Israel of stealing Lebanon’s resources. This prompted israel to buy three warships to protect offshore gas fields that it has already developed from seaborne attack at a time when Beirut reportedly plans to award oil and gas exploration contracts to international companies in disputed waters bordering Lebanon.
In April, a group of 46 firms qualified to bid on a first round of licenses to explore Lebanese offshore gas fields, with 12 qualified to bid as operators.
Caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil has called on the cabinet—which resigned in March and the parliament to hold extraordinary sessions to approve the oil sector decrees.
Bassil had originally planned to conduct Lebanon’s first round of licensing for developing its offshore resources in May, however the cabinet’s resignation in March put the process on hold.