Geagea Praises President's Stances, Calls on Salam to Form Cabinet or Resign

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea hailed on Monday President Michel Suleiman over his “sovereign stances,” calling on Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to form his cabinet within two weeks or to refrain from the task.

“The presidency is the only position in this state that is alive as the caretaker cabinet isn't moving and the parliament is paralyzed,” Geagea told al-Akhbar newspaper in an interview.

He called on the Lebanese parties to back Suleiman, lashing out at the president's critics.

“Shall the president remain mum before the incidents along the border or is he a traitor because he is defending his country,” Geagea wondered.

He pointed out that the “only hope for our country is the president.”

Asked about the process of the cabinet formation, Geagea said that Salam has no excuse in his delay.

“Salam has no time left... We grant him two weeks to form his cabinet or he should resign from carrying out the task,” the Christian leader said.

Following the resignation of Premier Najib Miqati's cabinet in March, Salam was designated to line up a cabinet, amid conflicting positions between the March 14 alliance that demands forming an impartial cabinet, the March 8 forces insisting on forming a political one, and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat's objection to a cabinet that does not represent all Lebanese factions.

Geagea called on officials to swiftly form the cabinet to appoint a new army chief or extend the tenure of Gen. Jean Qahwaji, who will turn 60 in September, the maximum age for the post of the army commander.

The vacancies in the council would be followed by a similar vacuum in the army's management department. Maj. Gen. Abdul Rahman Shehaitli will retire around May 24.

Concerning Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's accusation to the March 8 and 14 alliances of “tarnishing Lebanon’s image” and paralyzing state institutions in addition to shoving the country in Syria's crisis, Geagea urged the Patriarch “to hold the real side responsible for the crises in Lebanon.”

The LF leader expressed fear over the security situation in the country, slamming the strong rhetoric by some officials who are targeting the army.

Syria's civil war has exacerbated sectarian tensions in Lebanon and its security situation has deteriorated due to various groups intervention in battles in the neighboring country.

Although Lebanon has officially adopted a position of neutrality in Syria's war, its people are sharply divided with Hizbullah and its allies backing President Bashar Assad's regime and the March 14 coalition supports the rebellion.

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