Franjieh Denies Row with FPM but Calls for 'Consultation' on Decision-Making

Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh denied on Friday he was engaged in a row with the Free Patriotic Movement, but said he had different viewpoints with it on several issues, including a proposal to have a federal system.

“We don't have differences with the FPM,” Franjieh said at a press conference he held in Bnashii.

“We will continue to stand by (FPM chief MP Michel) Aoun as long as he is sticking to his policies,” he said.

“If we are consulted on a political program and convinced by it, then we remain committed to the FPM,” he stated.

“Had we been consulted” on Thursday's protests held by the FPM “we might have resorted to the streets with it,” the MP said. But “we did what suited us.”

FPM supporters marched towards the Grand Serail on Thursday but scuffled with Lebanese soldiers who stopped them from reaching the government house.

The tension on the streets took place as Aoun's son-in-law Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil argued with Prime Minister Tammam Salam during a cabinet session over the alleged violation of the Constitution and the infringement on the Christian president’s powers.

Baabda Palace has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year.

Franjieh stressed: “We want to preserve the authorities of the president and the dignity of the PM as well.”

“Having a centrist president means continued vacuum,” he said in response to a question by a reporter. “A centrist president means weakness.”

Franjieh, who is a member of Aoun's Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, said the FPM chief is keen on the country's Christians and wants to give them their rights.

But he stressed that Aoun should resort to dialogue to achieve a solution.

Franjieh also rejected a proposal made by the FPM to have a federal system. “We can't tell our partners in the country that we no longer want them.”

“Federalism would make the situation much worse,” he said.

Aoun has said federalism could resolve Lebanon’s political and sectarian woes.

"I hope this was a slip of the tongue," added Franjieh.

Meanwhile, Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat telephoned Franjieh “to thank him on his stance, which falls in favor of protecting stability and Lebanon's unity,” said a PSP statement.

Jumblat, a centrist, “stressed the importance of intensifying contacts between the different parties at this difficult stage,” it added.



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