Geagea Slams Division of Shares, Describes Dialogue as 'Waste of Time'

Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea announced on Saturday that the LF will not participate in a dialogue that Speaker Nabih Berri has called for to tackle Lebanon's controversial issues, describing it a “waste of time.”

“The dialogue will be similar to its predecessors. Consequently, it is a waste of time,” Geagea said about previous all party-talks held under former President Michel Suleiman.

“That's why we will not attend,” said the LF chief in a speech he gave following a yearly mass that he organizes in commemoration of the LF martyrs.

“One thing is required now – heading to parliament and electing a president,” he said.

Geagea stressed that holding the dialogue “would divert the attention from the single major step of … electing a president.”

His announcement came a day after Berri said he “would be glad” if Geagea decided to attend the talks.

The rival parties are expected to discuss on Sept. 9 ways to end the vacuum at Baabda Palace, the resumption of the work of parliament and the cabinet, a new electoral draft-law, legislation allowing Lebanese expats to obtain the nationality, administrative decentralization and ways to support the army and the Internal Security Forces.

Geagea said it was an “impossible assumption” that the conferees could agree on a presidential candidate.

“The stance of each side from the presidential elections is known. How could we reach a different result?” he asked.

“The dialogue will disregard our major problems, among them the waste crisis and the presidential elections,” he said.

Lebanon has been without a president since the expiry of Michel Suleiman's six-year term in May 2014.

The vacuum at Baabda Palace has paralyzed the parliament and the cabinet. The country's political problems worsened in July when a waste management crisis erupted following the closure of Lebanon's largest landfill in Naameh.

The government's failure to resolve the crisis has evolved into wider protests against the corrupt political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country's civil war in 1990.

Geagea, who does not have representatives in the cabinet, slammed the government for failing to reach major decisions.

He said that 25 years after the end of the civil war, Lebanon is still suffering from water shortage, power cuts, bad infrastructure, bad services and now a waste crisis.

He said the only thing that the government's members agree on is the division of portfolios and shares.

“When all the parties want to unite in a single cabinet and at a time when many politicians are corrupt, everyone would want to keep pace with the other through corruption,” Geagea stated.

The LF chief agreed with protesters that the government should resign. “But on condition to form a new cabinet, which is neither ineffective, nor corrupt.”

The election of a president is the only way to change the government with a better one, he added.

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