Former PMs accuses Aoun of stirring sectarian tension to empower Bassil

File photo of Former PM Saad Hariri and Future Movement leader
PM-designate Saad Hariri is still insisting on forming a government of independent experts that is not loyal to any political party, not even his own party, the Future Movement

Former Prime Ministers Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora, Saad Hariri and Tammam Salam thwarted an attempt by President Michel Aoun to stir sectarian tension with the aim to revive his son-in-law’s political role.

Well-informed sources said that the former premiers, who met on Monday, have decided to refrain from engaging in an open dispute with former Minister Gebran Bassil to spare the country more sectarian and confessional tension.

According to the sources, Bassil’s coup against the political system that regulates relations between the Lebanese sects and which is based on the Taif Accord, has quickly backfired against the former minister and had no political power.

The sources pointed to a leaked video of Aoun accusing Hariri of “lying”, saying that the president has chosen the time on purpose to reveal a conversation between him and Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

In the video, Diab asks Aoun about developments regarding the formation of a new government. The latter answers: “There is no formation… [Hariri] said that he gave me a paper.” He adds: “He is lying… He made false statements… and traveled to Turkey.”

According to the sources, Aoun’s decision to revive the tension, which would bring the government consultations back to square one, was not spontaneous, but intentional, with the aim to boost his political heir’s (Bassil) political status.

Bassil, in a televised news conference on Sunday, called for a new political pact, which many saw as a coup against the Taif Accord.

Moreover, the sources said that Bassil, with his proposal, wanted to block the initiative of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai, who had sought a rapprochement between Aoun and Hariri to facilitate the formation of the government.

However, both Aoun and Bassil – according to the same sources – suffered a setback after the former prime ministers decided to ignore their recent statements, which were intended at stirring sectarian reactions.

Asharq Al-Awsat