Tension Between Aoun's Bloc and Lebanese Forces Could Disrupt Formation of Hariri Gov't

Published May 27th, 2018 - 03:09 GMT
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil (Twitter)
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil (Twitter)

The rift between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces appeared to have widened over the weekend, with officials from both sides engaging in a backhanded Twitter debate.

The issue began with an ambiguous Friday tweet from caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi that was interpreted by many to have been directed at caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who heads the FPM.

“A stubborn [person] thought that he can do whatever he wants, get whatever he wants, monopolize everything to him and doesn’t even share bread with his siblings,” the LF politician wrote.

His tweet sparked a backlash from some FPM officials, including Bassil.

The FPM head seemed to interpret Riachi’s tweet as a continuation of recent accusations by the LF that there have been attempts to isolate the party from major political posts and obstruct its chances of getting key ministries in the upcoming government.

“They have started to resort to [claims of] isolation, in order to call for sympathy and make political gains,” Bassil said in a tweet Saturday.

Those LF complaints took a new turn after last week’s Parliament session, held to elect a speaker, deputy speaker and other members of the secretariat.

 

 

LF MP Fadi Saad, who was running to be one of two Parliament secretaries, reportedly withdrew after he was made aware of alleged attempts to isolate the LF. Former LF MP Antoine Zahra was a secretary in the previous Parliament. But the FPM’s Alain Aoun and Progressive Socialist Party MP Marwan Hamadeh ended up taking the seats in last week’s election.

It has also been reported that the LF is asking to head key ministries given that its parliamentary bloc now consists of 15 MPs, a major gain from its eight-seat presence in the previous Parliament. The LF is in particular seeking to retain its control over the deputy prime ministership. But it seems that the FPM is now vying for the post as well.

“There is no isolation, everyone should be satisfied with the size of their representation and they will be represented. Their demands, meetings, complaints and nagging will not benefit them,” Bassil added.

Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati, affiliated to the FPM, was more direct in his tweet. “To the Information Minister [Riachi], with all honesty, search for a stubborn person and you will find him under the ceiling of your house,” he said.

But Riachi expressed surprised over the FPM reactions, writing on Twitter Saturday: “It is weird that a tweet that was unrelated [to domestic politics] was interpreted as an domestic [message]. It is really very weird.”

The LF and FPM were once foes, but an understanding between LF leader Samir Geagea and FPM founder Michel Aoun brought Lebanon’s two main Christian parties together. Signed in 2016, the agreement paved the way for Aoun to be elected as president later that year.

But the relationship between the two has remained rocky over their different approaches to key issues in government, including how to resolve the country’s electricity crisis.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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