Suleiman wants a cabinet to oversee presidential election


michel Suleiman blasts hezbollah armsPresident Michel Suleiman urged the formation of a new government to oversee the presidential election that are scheduled for May 2014 and stressed they should be held on time.

“A new government should be formed to oversee the presidential elections even if it doesn’t receive parliamentary vote of confidence,” Suleiman said in a speech.

He reiterated his rejection of an extension to his presidential term.

“In my view, a parliament session dedicated to the extension of the term of the president is unconstitutional.”

Addressing the demands by Free Patriotic Movement to hold a cabinet session to tackle the oil and gas file, Suleiman said: “This issue alone is not enough to convene government.”

The president also said that he has not yet taken any decisions with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati concerning the convening of the caretaker cabinet.

He added the sessions will be held only after discussions with premier.

Speaker Nabih Berri urged the cabinet on Monday to hold a session to tackle the delicate situation in the country and the the oil and gas file.

Mikati announced last Saturday that he was mulling a return of cabinet sessions, as an agreement over the formation of a new government has not yet been reached.

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has been trying since his appointment last April to form a cabinet based on giving an equal share to the rival political blocks – March 14 , March 8 and the centrists, but the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance has been insisting on having a bigger share in the cabinet to allow it to veto its decisions . Salam has been opposed to giving any party a veto power ( usually referred to as a blocking third ) and has been insisting that the 8-8-8 formula is in the best interest of Lebanon . He has on several occasions floated the idea of forming a neutral cabinet of technocrats, but Hezbollah and FPM leader MP Michel Aoun have been opposed to this idea too. Meanwhile, the Future Movement and other March 14 parties claim that they will not be part of a cabinet in which Hezbollah participates and this is why Lebanon is still without a government and Mikati is still acting as the caretaker Prime Minister.

During his televised address in October Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said he accepts the 9-9-6 formula.
“We [currently] accept the 9-9-6 formula [for cabinet formation], but when conditions change we might no longer accept it; take advantage of the opportunity,” Nasrallah told March 14 alliance

PSP leader Walid Jumblatt has been promoting the 9-9-6 formula that was initially proposed by Hezbollah’s ally Speaker Berri which calls for giving veto power to the two main rival camps March 14 and March 8, but 6 ministers only to the centrist bloc which is supposed to include president Michel Suleiman and PM designate Tammam Salam in addition to Jumblatt. But many March 14 politicians now consider Jumblatt a part of the March 8 alliance and for this reason they rejected the proposal. March 14 alliance is also insisting that Hezbollah should withdraw its fighters from Syria before participating in any new cabinet.