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All options are open in Lebanon – Hezbollah source | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – The March 8 Alliance has said that it will announce the name of its candidate to lead the new government of Lebanon on Monday, after it brought about the collapse of the Lebanese government. The figure that the March 8 Alliance chooses as its prime ministerial candidate will be a strong indication of the course of things to come in Lebanon, for if this political coalition chooses a candidate other than caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri this will be akin to announcing its intention for escalation and opposition, whilst if it announces that it accepts Hariri as prime minister, it will have extended a hand to the other side with regards to the formation of a new government.

A parliamentary source within Hezbollah confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “all options are open and the scenarios have been closely studied” however he also stressed that “the plan that the March 8 Alliance began to implement when their ministers announced their resignation does not include resorting to the street.” The source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “our withdrawal from the government is a constructional right, as are all the steps that we will take in the forthcoming stage. The time of procrastination and delay is over; we have entered the time of change. We will not accept the formation of any government that we are not 100 percent certain will be able to make national achievements, whether this is a government of one colour or it is made up of all parties.”

MP Ibrahim Kannan of the Change and Reform bloc told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the opposition has not resolved its choice with regards to its candidate for the position of prime minister of the new government” although he did reveal that the general trend within the opposition does not point to Hariri being renamed as Prime Minister “because Hariri was previously chosen and we reached a dead-end with him, and as a result of this we must look for other options.”

Kannan also revealed that “there will only be one opposition [prime ministerial] candidate” adding that “things will take shape in this regard over the coming hours.” He also stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the path that we have taken and continue to take in the coming days is a completely democratic and constitutional one, we tried to spare Lebanon the [political] polarization that it is currently witnessing by reaching a settlement with the other party, but it refused this, and therefore it is our duty to follow a different path, and what is most important is that this is a democratic one.”

As for the makeup of any new government, Kannan told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the look of the government does not specify its effectiveness. On Monday we will be heading to parliamentary consultation [in this regard], and after this we will decide the features of the new government.”

However the March 14 Alliance has stressed that there is no alternative to Saad Hariri for the post of prime minister, and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Michel Pharon informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “anybody seeking to prevent Saad Hariri from returning to the position of prime minister is only seeking sedition because they know perfectly well that Prime Minister Hariri is the sole leader with legitimacy with regards to having a majority and Sunni representation. He was the only one who we reached a consensus on with regards to his decisions…there is no alternative to him, and there is no Sunni figures that enjoys the same legitimacy.”

Pharon stressed that “although the step taken by the March 8 Alliance in resigning from government is constitutional, this has plunged Lebanon into a dark tunnel” He said that “this resignation, which was provocative in form and content, and which put an end to the Doha Agreement, national dialogue, and the Ministerial Statement…only aimed to harm the international tribunal” adding that the international tribunal had been agreed upon in national dialogue, the Doha Agreement, and the Ministerial statement.”

Minister Pharon also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “by withdrawing from this political agreement, this party has taken the country hostage solely in order to disrupt the tribunal.” He added that “this reminds us of what happened following the assassinations of Minister Pierre Amine Gamayel and their resignation from government…and today they have returned to the same scenarios on the eve of the [tribunal’s] indictment.”

He also warned that “this team is taking Lebanon into a confrontation with the international community.” Pharon also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is unfortunately that those who claim to be protecting Lebanon from sedition have withdrawn from the [political] consensus (the national unity government) that was achieved with international, regional, and domestic backing, via the Doha Agreement, and this raises legitimate questions about their intentions following the collapse of the government and the weakening of the country…all of this aims to prevent engagement with the international tribunal, even if this comes at thee expense of the people.”

For his part, Lebanese Minister of Health Mohammed Jawad Khalifeh said that “it is too early to talk about excluding Prime Minister Saad Hariri from the position of prime minister of any future government…we are waiting for the necessary parliamentary consultation.” He added that “although the resignation of 11 ministers from government disabled it [the government]…its operations was already disabled” adding that “the resignations merely made official what existed for months.”

Whilst Lebanese Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud said that “talk about the March 8 Alliance turning the tables is exaggeration…[because] there is nobody at the center of the table, rather all that we have done is exercise our democratic and constutitonal right, and the situation is good, the banks are safe, and life is normal.” Abboud added that “there will be no resorting to the street, because whoever resorts to the street is weak, and if we look at the balance of power we see that it is balanced.”