Hariri Lauds Salam's Stances, Says No Veto on Any Presidential Nominee

Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri lauded Sunday the stances of Prime Minister Tammam Salam regarding the cabinet dispute, as he urged a “realistic solution” to the presidential crisis and noted that there is no “veto” on any candidate.

“They did not meet us halfway after we proposed our roadmap last year … but the crises make us more determined to propose solutions,” said Hariri via video link during Mustaqbal's annual iftar banquet.

“We have not changed our viewpoint that what we proposed a year ago can be capitalized on today,” he said.

“On more than one occasion, we called for dialogue ... and it is a policy that we will pursue, regardless of all the remarks and criticism that accompany it,” Hariri underlined.

He stressed that the doors are not closed in the face of any “realistic solution” to the presidential crisis, pointing out that there is “no veto on anyone under the ceiling of national consensus.”

“Let us all calm down and put an end to the rhetoric of escalation,” he urged.

Commenting on recent calls for implementing federalism in Lebanon, Hariri dismissed the suggestions, stressing that Lebanon only has one choice: “solidarity over reviving the constitutional institutions and protecting the concept upon which Lebanon was built.”

Turning to the latest political confrontation and street protests over the thorny issue of the cabinet's decision-taking mechanism, Hariri said “Salam did the right thing by protecting the last pillar of the executive authority from vacuum and paralysis.”

“Al-Mustaqbal movement will not engage in any sectarian confrontation … Most political forces in the government believe that the issue of the Army Command must be discussed in September,” Hariri added, referring to the month during which the extended term of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji will expire.

The ex-PM's remarks come days after a stormy cabinet session that witnessed a heated exchange of tirades between Salam and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil of the Free Patriotic Movement.

During the explosive session, which was accompanied by FPM street protests, the cabinet's parties agreed to continue the tough debate over the cabinet's decision-taking mechanism after Eid al-Fitr.

Aoun had called on his supporters to prepare for rallies to restore what he described as “the rights of the Christians.” Preparations for the demos began after the cabinet failed to discuss the appointment of high-ranking security and military officials.

The FPM chief has been lobbying for the appointment of Commando Regiment commander Chamel Roukoz, his son-in-law, as army chief.

“Hizbullah is very eager to create a problem between us and the FPM. They accused us of marginalization and they are experts in unilateralism and marginalization. They are the ones who have breached national consensus the most throughout Lebanon's history,” said Hariri on Sunday.

He emphasized that “al-Mustaqbal movement is the movement of calm and rationality and we won't be dragged into escalation and extremism, because this is a recipe for undermining civil peace and the first step towards civil war.”

As for Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian conflict, Hariri warned that “pouring oil on the Syrian fire is a crime against Lebanon and its safety as much as it is a crime against Syria and its people.”

“We said in the past and emphasize today: getting involved in the Syrian war will not protect Lebanon. When you play with fire, expect the fire to burn you,” he noted.

Responding to recent remarks on Yemen and Syria by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hariri stressed that Saudi Arabia's Operation Decisiveness Storm against Yemen's Huthi rebels “is still a thorn in the throat of the Iranian project to dominate the region.”

“The road to Palestine does not pass through (Syria's) Zabadani and Damascus. The road from Beirut to Tehran passes through Syria and Iraq, but the road to Palestine certainly not,” added Hariri.

On Friday, Nasrallah had declared that the “road to Jerusalem” goes through the Syrian regions in which his party's members are fighting, “because if Syria is lost, Palestine would be lost.”


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