Aoun: Salam Can't Form De Facto Cabinet, He's to Blame for Obstruction
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Friday stressed that Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam will not be able to form “a de facto cabinet,” blaming him for the delay in the cabinet formation process.
“The consultations over cabinet formation have not led to anything and no progress has been made,” Aoun said during an interview with the pan-Arab, Beirut-based al-Mayadeen television.
“Political stances were voiced before the parliamentary consultations (to name a PM-designate) and they called for preventing the Aounists from having the telecom and energy portfolios. (Former) PM (Fouad) Saniora endorsed the calls and said he wants portfolio rotation and that the cabinet must not contain partisan or political figures,” Aoun explained.
“Saniora did not talk about what he wants but rather about what he rejects, because he was annoyed by the Impossible Acquittance book,” which was released by the Change and Reform bloc, Aoun added.
Salam has lamented that the cabinet crisis has been further deadlocked by the conditions set by Aoun. The PM-designate is insisting on the rotation of portfolios among sects and political parties in a 24-member government based on the 8-8-8 formula, but Aoun is sticking to his demand to retain the energy and telecom portfolios.
Explaining the insistence on the energy and water portfolio, Aoun said during Friday's interview that “all ministries are important to us, but since 1926 until today, no one in Lebanon has taken the issue of oil into consideration, due to negligence or collusion or maybe lack of vision.”
“We're the ones who unveiled the oil wealth and overcame the taboos and this issue needs courage,” he noted.
“From 10 months ago until today, the parliamentary consultations have not been followed by the formation of a cabinet and we have not been consulted. No one has visited us or even contacted us,” Aoun decried.
“Minister Bassil visited the PM-designate, who asked us to give him names. He said he would allocate portfolios to our candidates and that we would be pleased, but at the moment we are not pleased,” he went on to say.
Aoun slammed President Michel Suleiman and Salam's “threat to form a de facto cabinet.”
“Who are they to launch such a threat? When the PM-designate fails, he must step down and if such a cabinet was formed, it would be unconstitutional,” Aoun warned.
“I don't know where we're heading when the constitution is being torn up,” he added.
Aoun pointed out that the PM-designate “is to blame for the obstruction,” emphasizing that he will not be able to form a so-called de facto cabinet.
Referring to al-Mustaqbal Movement, Aoun added: “Let them find a text that obliges me to accept portfolio rotation and I would do what they want. Those who were in charge of the finance ministry for 20 years and bankrupted it cannot speak of portfolio rotation.”
Asked whether he would run in the upcoming presidential election, Aoun said: “If I was able to implement the change and reform plan, I would be the first candidate for the presidency, but we have not taken a decision until the moment."
When asked about his definition of a strong president, the FPM leader added: "A strong president is a president who respects the constitution and laws and who enjoys popular support.”
In response to another question, Aoun stated: “We are not in the March 8 camp and we have several conflicting viewpoints. I'm not also a centrist; what does centrism mean?”
Turning to the Syrian crisis, the FPM leader pointed out that “when 83 countries send Salafists to Syria, that's not a revolution, but rather an international war on Syrian soil.”
Commenting on cross-border shelling on the Lebanese-Syrian border, Aoun said “the failure to control the border with Syria is a deliberate negligence.”
“The border must be closed and medical assistance must be offered to refugees,” he added.