Suleiman Meets Mustaqbal MPs, Unleashes Tirade against FPM, Hizbullah
Former President Michel Suleiman on Tuesday severely criticized the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah without naming them for seeking to “paralyze” the cabinet and dragging the war in neighboring Syria to Lebanon.
“It is not acceptable to impose conditions on the cabinet,” Suleiman said following talks with a delegation from al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc at his residence in Yarze.
The delegation was headed by MP Ahmed Fatfat and the meeting was attended by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.
Suleiman, who now heads the so-called Consultative Gathering that brings together Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel and several cabinet ministers, described the current paralysis of the government as “very dangerous.”
FPM officials have been calling on the appointment of high-ranking military and security officials before discussing any other issue in the cabinet.
FPM leader MP Michel Aoun wants to bring his son-in-law Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz as army chief.
“There are always threats made by certain parties. But we back Prime Minster Tammam Salam,” said Suleiman.
“Is it so important to choose an army commander now rather than elect a president?” he asked.
“Lebanon's democracy is not based on staging a coup by the army,” the former head of state told reporters.
Suleiman also criticized Hizbullah without naming it, saying it “should focus on Lebanon's project rather than the plans of Iran and Syria.”
“We should unite and implement the Baabda Declaration,” he said.
“What would the fighting in al-Qalamoun benefit Lebanon?” Suleiman asked.
Hizbullah has recently succeeded in making major gains against al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front in the Syrian al-Qalamoun region that borders Lebanon.
The party insists it is fighting in Syria to prevent extremist groups from entering Lebanon.
The Mustaqbal delegation visited later Tuesday Gemayel at the Kataeb Party headquarters in Beirut's Saifi area.
Fatfat said after the talks that “everyone should be committed to the Baabda Declaration,” adding “Lebanon's interest should come first.”
“We are seeking to prevent strife and preserve the army and Lebanese institutions,” the lawmaker said.
Gemayel also described the current “paralysis as a coup against the constitution and a suicide.”
“Whether Hizbullah is right or wrong we should exert joint efforts” to resolve the country's problems, he said.
“The country is in danger,” the Kataeb chief warned.
The Mustaqbal lawmakers held separate meetings on Monday with Speaker Nabih Berri and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.
They are also expected to meet with PM Salam.