Hariri: We Won't Bargain on STL, Hizbullah Arms and Electoral Law Mustn't Isolate Any Ally
Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed Tuesday that al-Mustaqbal Movement “will not bargain” over the issues of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon or Hizbullah's weapons, while emphasizing that the new electoral law should not “subdue or isolate” any Lebanese component.
“Justice is coming and it is 'God's promise' and your pledge to Rafik Hariri and all the martyrs of Lebanon,” said Hariri at a BIEL rally marking the 12th anniversary of the assassination of his father, ex-PM Rafik Hariri.
“Rafik Hariri will remain with us, because we are simply committed to the pledges of honor, loyalty and coexistence,” the premier added.
Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a massive and shocking suicide bombing in 2005 that destabilized the country for many years. The explosion killed Hariri and 21 others and wounded more than 200 people.
The assassination sent a tremor across the region and unleashed a popular uprising that united large segments of the Lebanese and ejected Syrian troops from the country. Five Hizbullah suspects are being tried in absentia by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon based in The Hague.
“We made initiatives when initiatives were needed to rescue Lebanon and we have the courage to confront when confrontation is needed in order to defend the State,” Hariri told the BIEL rally on Tuesday, referring to his initiatives that eventually led to ending more than two years of presidential vacuum and the formation of a new government.
“We've made concessions to preserve stability but we won't bargain over the STL, our stance on the Assad regime, illegal arms or Hizbullah's involvement in Syria,” Hariri underlined.
Apparently addressing the criticism he has faced from former justice minister Ashraf Rifi, the premier said “Rafik Hariri's name must not be used for political vengeance and it won't be a barricade for creating animosity among the Lebanese.”
“Rafik Hariri understood the profound meaning of settlements in Lebanon and we understood with him that the policy of isolation and obstinacy is a futile policy that paralyzes the State and exposes the country to sectarian conflict,” Hariri added.
“Yes, there is a dispute in the country over Hizbullah's arms and its involvement in Syria. There is no consensus on the issue in the government, the parliament or national dialogue, but what protects the country is consensus over the army and the State and only the State,” the PM stressed.
“We are now involved in governance, an integral part of a common political will to protect Lebanon and assume the responsibilities of the state. This means that we are still in the heart of the project aiming to 'cross towards the State,' in the heart of the goals that we have fought for, and for which Rafik Hariri and the martyrs of the Independence Uprising paid their lives,” Hariri emphasized.
He noted that Lebanon today is secure, legally and constitutionally, and the political efforts “should concentrate on preventing any attempt to remove it from this scope.”
“No authority can be higher than the authority of the State. Whether the authority of parties or sects, or authorities supported by anyone abroad,” Hariri stated.
“Lebanon’s decision is in the hands of the Lebanese state and not in the hands of individuals, leaders or regional or international axes,” he said.
Hariri added: “To those who believe that any regional side can usurp the Lebanese national decision, just as they thought in the past, I say: the failure of past experiences is a lesson to them and to everyone. The Lebanese, us in the forefront, will not allow Lebanon to be handed over to foreign axes.”
“In this sense, Lebanon will never be, not today nor tomorrow or at any time, part of any axis in the face of its Arab brothers. We do not seek rivalry with anyone, and will not allow Lebanon to be an arena for the conflicts of others on its land,” Hariri vowed.
Turning to the thorny issue of the electoral law, Hariri said Mustaqbal is “keen on reaching a new electoral law that revives political life on the condition that it does not subdue or isolate any confessional component,” topped by Mustaqbal's “allies.”
While Mustaqbal has rejected that the electoral law be fully based on the proportional representation system, arguing that Hizbullah's arms would prevent serious competition in the party's strongholds, Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat has totally rejected proportional representation, even within a hybrid law, warning that it would “marginalize” his minority Druze community.
Hizbullah, Mustaqbal, AMAL Movement, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces are meanwhile discussing several formats of a so-called hybrid law.
The country has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the legislature has instead twice extended its own mandate. The last polls were held under an amended version of the 1960 electoral law and the next vote is scheduled for May.