MP Geagea: Minister Bassil not eligible to set criteria for government formation

Deputy Strida Geagea's media office issued this Friday a statement responding to yesterday interview with caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gebran Bassil.

"First, with regard to the reconciliation between the Lebanese Forces and the Marada movement -- a realization of the hopes of all the Lebanese people, without exaggeration, especially the people of the North -- which we have completed are about to culminate in a meeting at the highest level between the two parties,

At this very moment in history, Minister Bassil speaks about the subject in the worst possible way; a rhetoric filled with hatred and evil and negative intentions towards both parties.

For minister Bassil to be against the LF or the Marada, or against their convergence or even the convergence of any two Lebanese parties, this is his right, politically speaking. But to reopen a wound suffered by the Lebanese, all the Lebanese, for over forty years and stick a knife in it is something that no one imagined would come from an ordinary citizen, let alone the president of one of the major parties, someone who was supposed to be of the most keen on such a step...

Secondly, with respect to the government formation, as stipulated in the Maarab agreement, as usual, Minister Bassil manipulated this item and took it out of its original context in the text of the agreement which literally says (...): The Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement shall equally share the ministerial seats allocated to the Christians, including the sovereign and services portfolios distributed among the various Christian communities, and in all the governments under the mandate, after calculating the Christian quota that was traditionally given to the President of the Republic, ie 2/24 (2 Christian ministers in a cabinet of 24) or 3/30 (3 Christian ministers in a cabinet of 30). Each team shall also retain the right to replace one or more of its ministerial seats with others of the seats devoted to Muslim ministers. Thus, every team shall deal with its allies as it deems fit.

As for the desire of Minister Bassil for the "Lebanese Forces" to assume a sovereign portfolio, or the different political forces' opposition to such a thing, these claims are purely misleading. It is enough to review the positions of all parties, since the beginning of the government formation process, to show and confirm that there is no opposition to the LF assuming a sovereign portfolio, except from Minister Bassil.

Third, with regard to the criteria for the formation of the government, Minister Bassil is not eligible for setting such criteria. Either the Premier-designate sets them in coordination with the President of the Republic, or all the parliamentary blocs within the House of Representatives shall do so. Despite all this, Minister Bassil still insists on monopolizing this right.

(...) Fourthly, as for the Lebanese Forces' share of Christians' votes in the last elections, if we count all the Christian voters, the share will be 28% but, at the same time, the share of the "Strong Lebanon" bloc's would be 41% instead of 51%. We thus accept that the "Strong Republic" bloc be represented in the future government by a share 13% less than that of the Free Patriotic Movement and the President of the Republic.

In conclusion, it is clear that all the parameters set by Minister Bassil are applied only on the Lebanese Forces, in order to reduce the size of their ministerial representation, and that we will not accept at all."

Source: National News Agency