Jumblatt: All parties back PM-designateAEs task to form new government.
Summary: <p>Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said all parties "fully support" the task of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri in forming a national unity government. "I stressed to premier-designate Hariri my full support for the formation of the cabinet based on a formula he deems appropriate," he told reporters following a meeting with Hariri at the latter's house in the Beirut neighborhood of Kontari.
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said all parties "fully support" the task of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri in forming a national unity government. "I stressed to premier-designate Hariri my full support for the formation of the cabinet based on a formula he deems appropriate," he told reporters following a meeting with Hariri at the latter's house in the Beirut neighborhood of Kontari.
The meeting is the first one between the two after Jumblatt announced in early August his departure from the March 14 alliance, saying it was "driven by necessity and must end."
Hariri returned to Beirut early Monday morning after a one-week holiday spent in the south of France.
Jumblatt said he supported that "national consensus formula" govern the formation of the cabinet. He added he respected the choices of the Lebanese voters.
"The upcoming cabinet is not only the result of Lebanese consensus, it also the fruit of Arab agreement," the PSP head said, adding that Arab agreement "promotes Lebanese accord and promotes more than any other time the Taif Accord."
Brokered in the Saudi Arabian town of Taif, the agreement put an end to Lebanon's bloody 1975-90 Civil War.
"All parties stress their support for Premier-designate Ha-riri to form the government," Jumblat stressed.
Following Tuesday's evening meeting, Hariri told reporters that talks with Jumblat were "good" but did not elaborate.
Reporters in Kontari said that the atmosphere during the meeting was "rather tense."
The premier-designate's adviser Nader Hariri, as well as PSP MPs Marwan Hamadeh, Ghazi Aridi and Wael Abu Faour attended the talks.
Directly following talks with Hariri, Jumblatt met with a delegation from Hizbullah headed by MP Mohammad Raad. As The Daily Star went to press the meeting was still in progress.
The prime minister-designate has struggled to form a cabinet following the June 7 elections in which his coalition retained a majority in the 128-seat parliament and fended off a strong challenge from Hizbullah and its allies.
Hariri had reached an agreement on the division of seats in the new 30-seat government and was expected to finalize the new cabinet last week.
The 15-10-5 make-up grants the majority 15 ministers, the opposition 10 and President Michel Sleiman five seats, which guarantees him the tipping vote while both March 14 and the opposition would be denied the absolute majority or veto power.
But Hariri's efforts ran into difficulties when one of his main allies Jumblatt said he would quit March 14, drawing calls from some of Hariri's allies for a review of the seat-sharing arrangement.
Hizbullah and its allies the Amal Movement and the Free patriotic Movement have rejected the idea of changing the agreement.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's president on Tuesday urged rival political factions to close ranks and speed up the formation of a national unity government to face what he described as Israeli threats against Lebanon.
Sleiman's plea came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attacks on Israeli targets by Lebanon's Hizbullah.
Netanyahu warned Lebanon against letting the group join the new cabinet. He said the government could not turn a blind eye to Hizbullah's activities while the group sits in Lebanese Parliament and plays a major role in the country's politics.
Meanwhile, Hariri's Future Movement parliamentary bloc has praised the premier-designate's "determination" to form a government as soon as possible but without "hastiness," according to a statement following a meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was headed by caretaker Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
The bloc reaffirmed commitment to the March 14 principles, which it said "represent a solid belief in Lebanese entity, the country's Arab identity, as well as coexistence and civil peace."
The meeting reviewed the process of government formation and "the obstacles that have been delaying it in addition to Premier-designate Saad Hariri's continuous efforts and determination to reach a final shape-up."
The bloc also condemned "Israel's repeated threats and its attempts to interfere in the formation of the future Lebanese government," the statement added.
The Future Movemwnt called on the Lebanese to unite in the face of these threats and to "remain vigilant to Israel's constant attempts to drag Lebanon to a situation that serves its schemes." -- The Daily Star, with agencies
Copyright 2009, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.
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|Publication:||The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)|
|Date:||Aug 12, 2009|
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