Druze Leader Blasts Syrian ‘Meddling’ in Lebanese Politics
Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt Wednesday denounced Syria's continued "meddling" in Lebanon's internal affairs, mainly by preventing Christian representative politicians from joining the new government.
"This position is a clear and firm message to Syria. It is rather surprising that after 25 years, it does not understand that it should stop meddling in the Lebanese internal game," said Jumblatt, a close ally of new prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
"It should stop putting a systematic veto on any person which represents the Christian base," Jumblatt said in an interview with the French-language L'Orient-Le Jour newspaper.
His comments came as criticism grew over a cabinet line-up supposedly drafted before Hariri's appointment with Syrian involvement that was leaked to the media a few days ago.
He accused Syria of "favoring Christians like (former minister) Elie Hobeika, (MP) Nader Succar or (MP) Khalil Hrawi -- meaning Christians who do not represent anyone."
Jumblatt said that if the situation does not change, "undoubtedly, we will all sink."
The Druze leader said his 16-member parliamentary bloc from the Mount Lebanon district, including eight Christians, will not accept being included in the new government "if our participation is limited to the Druze community."
He said Hariri, a Sunni Muslim billionaire Rafiq Hariri who was appointed as prime minister on Monday and has been engaged in parliamentary talks for the formation of the new government, had to "bargain to impose his team, and he made a lot of concessions."
"President Emile Lahoud cannot continue to act like that, or else we will all be heading straight toward catastrophe," he said, asserting that good relations between Lahoud and Hariri "can never work."
"It will not even work for one second, there is no harmony between the two men," who had recently pledged to cooperate after years of bitter disputes.
Hariri, who was prime minister between 1992-1998, had refused to head the first government under Lahoud when he first became president in 1998.
Jumblatt, a former prominent militia leader during the country's 1975-1990 civil war, has been engaged in reconciliation with Christian groups, particularly through the recent parliamentary election campaign.
Jumblatt had called this summer for "more balanced relations" with Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon where it deploys 35,000 troops – BEIRUT (AFP)
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