Aoun Issues Stern Warning against 'De Facto Cabinet' Breaching Coexistence Pact
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday reiterated that the formation of a so-called “de facto cabinet” would violate the 1943 National Pact, an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state.
“What's dangerous in the cabinet formation process is that it is based on incomplete consultations that excluded the biggest Christian parliamentary bloc,” Aoun said in a written statement he recited after the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc.
“When we objected against this deliberate mistake, we realized that it was based on an agreement between certain officials and the PM-designate and we figured out that they had already agreed on everything and that they want us to accept this fact and say goodbye to national partnership,” Aoun added.
He stressed that sects must be represented in a “fair manner” in the cabinet lineup, “especially that Article 66 of the Constitution had given an independent constitutional authority to the minister, who is no longer an aide to the president.”
“The formation of any cabinet must respect the National Pact in form and content,” Aoun said, underlining that “the PM-designate is named according to binding parliamentary consultations.”
He emphasized that the constitution “clearly stipulates” that there is no legitimacy for any authority that contradicts coexistence.
“The current practices have nothing to do with the principles and texts or with the norms that must be followed in forming cabinets. They must be totally rejected so that they don't become a precedent. They are also artificial preconditions aimed at obstruction,” Aoun pointed out.
Addressing the controversial issue of portfolio rotation among sects and political groups in the new cabinet, Aoun stressed that “portfolio rotation is neither a principle nor a norm, which raises a question about impeding the formation process with a fabricated precondition.”
“The precondition was further complicated when the PM-designate (Tammam Salam) clung to it after the remarks of his boss -- the head of al-Mustaqbal bloc” Fouad Saniora, Aoun added.
“An all-embracing cabinet requires an agreement among all parties on the conditions of its formation,” he stressed.
Aoun cautioned that “whoever creates obstacles would be breaching the (National) Pact (of coexistence), which would strip the cabinet of any legitimacy or constitutionality, rendering it a de facto cabinet.”
“We will deal with it accordingly, especially when it is rejected by a bloc that has major representation.”
The FPM leader noted that if the “tacit objective” behind forming this cabinet is to “impede the presidential election, that would be more dangerous and would have more serious repercussions.”
“It is a constitutional duty to make sure that the cabinet truly represents all the components of the country,” Aoun said.
“Beware of tampering with the constant national principles amid such very critical junctures,” he warned.
A meeting held between Salam and President Michel Suleiman on Monday signaled that the formation of the new government was imminent despite the alleged insistence of the FPM to hold onto the energy and telecom portfolios.
FPM officials told An Nahar daily that Aoun was still awaiting a response from Salam on several questions that caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil had raised during their meeting on Sunday.
But An Nahar said that the PM-designate was the one waiting for the FPM to a proposal that he had made to give it the foreign affairs and education portfolios in the new cabinet.
Aoun's insistence to keep the energy portfolio, which is held by Bassil – his son-in-law – in the resigned government of Premier Najib Miqati has been blamed for the cabinet standstill after the rest of the rival factions struck a deal to give the March 8 and 14 alliances and centrists eight ministers each in a government based on the rotation of portfolios among sects.
Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour met with Suleiman on Monday and told al-Manar TV that an all-embracing government would be formed -- along with FPM representatives and despite Aoun's disapproval -- if the last-minute mediation efforts fail.