Hezbollah's No.2 calls Suleiman’s proposal unconstitutional


qassem naim defSheikh Naim Qassem Deputy of Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah , dismissed President Michel Suleiman’s proposal for the formation of a new government to oversee the upcoming presidential elections as “unconstitutional.”

“Suleiman’s proposal for the formation of a new government, with or without a parliamentary vote of confidence, to oversee the presidential elections is unconstitutional,” Qassem , who is usually referred to as Number 2 said in a statement on Thursday, according to a report by NOW.

“A government that doesn’t enjoy the confidence [of the parliament] cannot take replace the caretaker government, and therefore won’t be able to oversee the presidential elections as it won’t have any legal backing.”

Qassem warned that “such a path will lead the country to strife, division and chaos.”

He also accused the March 14 coalition of striving to form a cabinet “that doesn’t enjoy the support of the majority,” in order to replace the current caretaker government.

Suleiman, whose mandate expires in 2014, has repeatedly said that he is against the extension of his own term as president.

However, the deepening political deadlock in Lebanon has raised fears his mandate may have to be extended.

Earlier this week President Suleiman urged the formation of a new government to oversee the presidential elections 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 on Tuesday.

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

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’s 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.

Berri warned last week that the formation of a new government is becoming increasingly unlikely amid the deepening political deadlock in Lebanon.

“The chances of a formation of a new government are decreasing daily, and they will be almost nil by the end of the current month,” Berri said in remarks published by Al-Akhbar on December 6.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea lashed out Tuesday at Hezbollah accusing it of violating the Lebanese constitution and of interpreting it the way it fits its needs.

During a seminar on Human Rights Day, Geagea said:

“Some parties in Lebanon are still insisting on violating this constitution and taking us back to obsolete eras, he said adding :The interpretation of the Constitution changes according to the needs of the Resistance and the constitutional institutions come last because the conflict with the “great satans” and “small satans” must come first.