Opposition MPs announced on Wednesday a plan for political confrontation with Hezbollah, which does not rule out an escalation that it was careful not to specify. They also conveyed a series of messages to political opponents and to France in particular, rejecting any dialogue before the unconditional election of a head of state.
In a joint statement, unveiling the main points of a political “confrontation plan for the current phase”, 31 MPs declared that “the decisive moment to counter Hezbollah’s stranglehold on the country has arrived”.
They set out the framework for their action in nine points, all of which are aimed at restoring the authority of the State, which the pro-Iranian group has gradually eroded. Two main elements stand out in the roadmap they presented, which is addressed as much to their political adversaries as to the States that are trying to break the deadlock in the presidential election, notably France, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar: the refusal of any dialogue with Hezbollah and its allies and the reference to a confrontation “outside the constitutional framework, when necessary.”
For them, the only possible dialogue should be about illegal weapons.
The parliamentarians stressed that their joint position is dictated by the fact that “it was no longer possible to waste time or engage in ad hoc compromises likely to re-impose Hezbollah’s hegemony over the three highest authorities of the State and over the country.”
“It is the duty of the opposition forces to seriously find the means to restore sovereignty, which is based on the application of the Constitution and the laws, to preserve freedoms throughout the country, to concentrate arms in the hands of the legal forces alone, to establish a foreign policy that guarantees neutrality, to protect Lebanon, to save justice, the Administration, the economy and to clean up public finances,” the statement said.
The first confrontational move is set for Thursday by boycotting the parliamentary session. The opposition has announced that it will generally boycott any legislative meeting convened before the election of a President of the Republic, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
“In the absence of a President, Parliament is an electoral assembly and cannot legislate,” they said. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, had called for a legislative session on August 17 to consider a series of bills, including one on capital controls and another on the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund.
The Opposition MPs urged their colleagues and parliamentary blocs to follow in their footsteps and boycott the session.
They reaffirmed their rejection of dialogue that France would encourage with a view to unblocking the presidential election.
“It has become clear that any dialogue with Hezbollah and its allies is pointless. Hezbollah relies on the fait accompli imposed outside the framework of the institutions in order to neutralize them when it so wishes or to revitalize them when it guarantees the results of democratic procedures (elections) thanks to its anti-democratic means: imposition (of a candidate for the presidency), intimidation, seduction or elimination, which it uses to the benefit of its hegemonic project.”
“For all these reasons, we warn against a president who would be an extension of Hezbollah’s power,” they said, asserting that they reserve the right to “confront any process that will leave the state mortgaged”.
According to the signatories of the communiqué, “the only acceptable form of negotiation, within a reasonable time frame, would be that led by a future President of the Republic and which would focus on illegal weapons.” For them, this formula “would make it possible to implement all the provisions of the Taif agreement”. In this context, they rejected outright any formula for a prior agreement on the new president’s program, which was sought by both the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah.
The MPs also referred to the Doha Declaration issued by the Group of Five, in which the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar and Egypt insisted on the election, as soon as possible, of a President of the Republic “capable of embodying the integrity of Lebanon, uniting the Lebanese nation, putting the interests of the country first and the well-being of the population as a priority, and forming a broad coalition that benefits the greatest number of people, in order to implement the essential economic reforms”.
They called, as well, on “the opposition forces inside and outside Parliament to agree on a common roadmap for a confrontation that should go from strength to strength, as well as on an agenda of reforms.”
“Our democratic confrontation will take place both within and outside the institutional framework”, they continued, without however giving more details.
They also called on the caretaker government to stop violating the Constitution and to respect the limits of “current affairs’ management.”
The parliamentarians urged the judiciary, the army and the security forces to assume their responsibilities. “The role of these institutions is to protect the people against armed militias, not the other way round”, they said. In this context, they stressed the importance of continuing the investigations into the explosion at Beirut port, the crime at Ain Ebel where a Lebanese Forces officer was abducted and murdered, and the clashes in Kahale between Hezbollah militiamen and local residents.
In conclusion, the opposition MPs called on the international community, in particular the UN, to act immediately to implement resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701 focusing on Lebanon’s sovereignty.
The signatories are: MPs from the Lebanese Forces, the Kataëb party, Renewal, as well as independents: Georges Adwane, Samy Gemayel, Waddah Sadek, Michel Moawad, Mark Daou, Michel Doueihy, Fouad Makhzoumi, Ghassan Hasbani, Georges Okais, Selim Sayegh, Sethrida Geagea, Nadim Gemayel, Elias Hankache, Achraf Rifi, Adib Abdel Massih, Bilal Hshaimi, Nazih Matta, Saïd el-Asmar, Fady Karam, Camille Chamoun, Razi Hajj, Ghayath Yazbeck, Melhem Riachi, Chawki Daccache, Antoine Habchi, Elias Estéphan, Pierre Bou Assi, Ziad Hawat, Elie Khoury, Ghada Ayoub and Jihad Pakradouni. .