Hariri insists on Hizbullah participation in unity cabinet

Society Materials 26 August 2009 11:38 (UTC +04:00)

Premier-designate Saad Hariri stressed Tuesday Hizbullah would be part of the national-unity cabinet despite recent Israeli threats warning against the party's participation. "Hizbullah will be part of the government since the country's interests necessitate the party's participation," Hariri said during an iftar at his residence in Qoreitem, The Daily Star reported .

"The national-unity cabinet will include both the March 14 Forces and Hizbullah whether the Israeli enemy wanted or not," Hariri said.

Tackling the country's security situation, Hariri hailed the efforts of the Lebanese Army and other security forces to preserve Lebanon's stability.

Hariri stressed that alongside Israeli threats Lebanon faced social and economic challenges which necessitated the collective efforts of Lebanese political parties.

"We face many challenges which no party can handle on its own," Hariri said.

However, he added that national unity "should not marginalize the principles of democracy and freedom.

"We won in the [June7] parliamentary elections and then we reached out to all Lebanese groups based on our awareness of the size of the challenges and the threats to be addressed," Hariri said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hizbullah also expressed its readiness to cooperate with Hariri in order to expedite and facilitate the formation process.

Caretaker Labor Minister Mohammad Fneish urged the "swift" formation of a cabinet through dialogue "without trading accusations in the media."

Concerning Hizbullah's role in the cabinet-formation pro­cess, Fneish said his party was "taking initiative" in cooperaing with Hariri to end political disputes and guarantee a calm atmosphere for dialogue in order to reach a "satisfying" conclusion to the process.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with President Michel Sleiman, Fneish called on Hariri to pursue his efforts to reach a fair compromise on the cabinet issue, and said Hizbullah made efforts to reach a general accord on the government, a reference to the 15-10-5 formula.

The formula grants the majority 15 ministers, the opposition 10 and the president five seats which guarantee him the tipping vote; both March 14 and the opposition would respectively be denied absolute majority or veto power.

Media reports said on Tuesday that Hariri held talks Monday night with Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's political assistant Hussein Khalil. The reports added that Khalil informed Hariri of Hizbullah's support for the demands of their ally Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun.

Aoun insists that his son-in-law be reappointed for a second term as telecommunications minister. Aoun is also demanding that his party gets a "sovereign" ministry. Sovereign ministries include the defense, interior, finance and foreign affairs portfolios.

Sleiman urged political leaders on Tuesday to "tone down the sharpness of political rhetoric in order to re-start the necessary deliberations and break the political deadlock."