Lebanon top Shiite cleric tells Aoun: Stop cabinet demands and ‘save country’

Head of the Lebanese Islamic Supreme Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan
Head of the Lebanese Islamic Supreme Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan

A top Shiite cleric called on politicians to resolve the government deadlock as quickly as possible for the benefit of the Lebanese people, calling out President Michel Aoun in particular to relent in his Cabinet demands in order “to save the country.

In a televised speech to welcome the Hijri new year , Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan pressed for “a compromise from everyone to save our country.” His comments come after 5 months of deadlock in the cabinet formation, due in large part to unrelenting demands for key ministerial portfolios by political adversaries
More specifically, Qabalan urged Aoun to give up his cabinet shares.

Free Patriotic Movement founder ,president Michel Aoun (left) , is shown during his meeting with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah ( right). The meeting was held on October 24th , days before the parliament elected Aoun as president in October 2016
Free Patriotic Movement founder ,president Michel Aoun (left) , is shown during his meeting with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah ( right). The meeting was held on October 24th , days before the parliament elected Aoun as president in October 2016

Qabalan was referring to a bitter dispute between the Free Patriotic Movement, which Aoun founded, and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces party over ministerial representation. LF chief Samir Geagea has claimed that FPM leader Gebran Bassil, who is also Aoun’s son-in-law, has tried to usurp seats won rightfully by the LF in May’s parliamentary elections in the name of the president’s share, but Geagea has also said the LF will not relent.

Aoun who is allied with the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group and the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad has been demanding a substantial cabinet share for the presidency in addition to those allocated for his FPM group. Aoun is reportedly trying to control the cabinet by insuring he has a veto power over its activities.

Aoun’s demands according to AUB Professor Makram Rabah are linked to his opposition to the Taif accord which limits the power of the president and the future of Lebanon’s economy rests with Aoun’s acceptance of the limits of the presidency as stipulated in the Accord.

The country’s economic stability has been said to be further and further at risk, as a result of the dispute over key ministerial portfolios,

Qabalan called for the government formation to speed up for the benefit of the “country and the people,” whom it is politicians’ job to represent, instead of acting like “a government of axes and accusations.”

“We heard promises but didn’t see any solutions” to the deadlock, Sheikh Qabalan added.