Bassil Says 'Strong President' Should Have Govt. Share, Parliament Bloc

Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil said Tuesday that the president of the republic should have a share in the government and a parliamentary bloc in order to put the so-called “strong president” idea into action.

“The president's ministerial share is not linked to a certain era and we must not return to strategic mistakes that have been committed since the Taef Accord all the way to the issue of the Orthodox Gathering electoral law and the issue of the strong president and how he should be elected,” Bassil said after the weekly meeting of the Strong Lebanon bloc.

“We cannot tamper with these prerequisites or abandon them because someone is seeking political gains,” he added.

“During the Taef Accord meetings, some said that the president should have a one third share in Cabinet, but we have not reached this stage and it should not be counted according to the number of MPs. The idea of the strong president is to add to his few powers the strength of a parliamentary bloc that would be his main supporter, or else what is the idea of a strong president?” Bassil went on to say.

Referring to the ongoing delay in the Cabinet formation process, the FPM chief said: “We cannot confine the government formation process to issues beyond the Lebanese border.”

“Several ambassadors have asked me about the government formation process and I responded with all due diplomacy and manners that this is a domestic affair. We hope that this patriotic approach will be endorsed in the formation process,” Bassil added.

PM-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. His mission is being hampered by political wrangling over shares, especially over Christian and Druze representation. Some parties such as Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement have suggested that foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are behind the ongoing delay.

Hariri has meanwhile told reporters that the new government “will not be formed” should the pro-Damascus camp “insist on restoring Lebanese-Syrian ties.” But pro-Hizbullah journalist Salem Zahran said that the PM-designate has “informed Hizbullah” that his remarks were a “slip of the tongue.”

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