Salam in Veiled Reference to Hizbullah: Victory Should be Used to Build the Nation

Premier-designate Tammam Salam has said the party that considers itself a victor should use the victory to build a nation along with its rivals rather than making dictates.

In an interview with pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat published on Tuesday, Salam said: “There is a party that considers itself a victor … but we all know … the country would never rise if a certain team vanquishes another.”

“Lebanon has paid the price every time a party tried to abolish the other,” he said, warning that “any disruption of such an equation would endanger Lebanon.”

Any party that considers itself a victor, should use the triumph to make positive changes, he said.

“But how would we be able to build a nation together if it wants to weaken the other party?” Salam asked.

“We can't build a nation through dictates,” he stressed.

Salam did not mention which party he was talking about. But he seemed to be referring to the March 8 alliance in general and Hizbullah in particular.

Salam reiterated that his mission was “complicated and almost impossible.”

He was tasked to form the new cabinet in April but has so far been unable to come up with a line-up over the differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances.

“Eventually, I will have to take a decision which comes in harmony with my transparency, morals, convictions and patriotism,” he told Asharq al-Awsat.

Asked whether at any point during his more than eight month mission he felt that he was close to form his cabinet, Salam replied: “Amid the current circumstances I haven't felt I was close enough.”

“But at some stages I was close to the attempts to agree on a cabinet,” he said. “But those attempts were toppled.”

“Is there any hope to form the cabinet with the 9-9-6 formula or any other” proposal? he asked in a sign of growing pessimism on whether his cabinet would see light.

The latest proposal was to give the March 8 and 14 alliances nine ministers each and centrists – President Michel Suleiman, Salam and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat – six ministers.

But March 14 snubbed the plan.

“The benefits that political parties, mainly those who are in power today, are seeking to clinch, are not helpful,” Salam said, in reference to Hizbullah.

He said the Hizbullah-led resigned cabinet is responsible for the current situation because it chose to form a government without its March 14 rivals.

Such a single-faceted cabinet paralyzes the country politically, economically, socially and at the security level, he added.

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