National Liberal Party (NLP) leader MP Dory Chamoun said on Monday that he is pessimistic about the possibility of forming a unity cabinet currently under discussion among Lebanon’s rival politicians.
“I am pessimistic about the upcoming possibility of a cabinet formation,” Chamoun, a key March 14 alliance member said in a statement.
“ March 14 is holding on to its two conditions: that Hezbollah withdraws its fighters from Syria and that the formula of the unity of the Lebanese people, army and resistance be repalced by teh Baabda declaration in the ministerial statement” of a new cabinet, he added.
“If Hezbollah is ready to agree to these conditions, then we have no problem joining the cabinet . Otherwise, we will not participate.”
Chamoun stressed that March 14’s stance regarding this issue is “unified” and sees that it is “unlikely that [Hezbollah] will show good intentions and cooperate with the conditions and easily retreat from its original plan.”
similarly the Phalange Party , another key member of the March 14 alliance announced on Monday its refusal to participate in a cabinet that would provide political cover for Hezbollah’s arms and its military campaign in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad ‘s regime.
“If the cabinet will cover up for the fighting in Syria and if it protects illegal arms ( in reference to Hezbollah ) then it is impossible for us to take part in it,” Phalange party bloc MP Sami Gemayel stressed on Monday following the party’s weekly meeting.
Intensified efforts to form a cabinet are continuing as March 14 leaders said that the alliance was still debating the recently proposed 24-minister cabinet based on 8-8-8 formula championed by Speaker Nabih Berri and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt that would give eight ministers each to the March 8 and 14 alliances as well as centrists.
The March 14 alliance had allegedly agreed to the 8-8-8 formula, but it is awaiting answers to inquiries it raised about its ministerial statement, the rotation of power, Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria, and a number of other issues.
Amid Lebanon’s nine-month deadlock over the formation of a cabinet, President Michel Suleiman threatened on Friday that he would form a cabinet on January 20 if the feuding political parties were unable to reach an agreement on a unity cabinet.
March 14 leaders vowed in the past not to join any government with Hezbollah as long as the party’s fighters were engaged in battles alongside the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad regime in against the rebels who are trying to topple the 40 year old dictatorship.