No one, or a very few, consider the danger of waiting, especially in light of a volatile and unstable regional situation so far," Caretaker Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, said Sunday in an interview to "Voice of Lebanon 93.3" Radio Station.
Riachy reminded about Lebanon's self-distancing policy, saying, "There is a country that has made a decision to adopt said policy and practically, Lebanon must completely neutralize itself from all conflicts in the region without exception."
Commenting on the obstacles hindering the new government formation, the Minister deemed that "there are external and international interests that will intersect with the internal interests at a certain moment...but unfortunately when these interests intervene, calculations exclude the internal scene...and now the problem is internal and very local."
Riachy considered that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri should adopt unified measures in forming the government in accordance with the results of the recent parliamentary elections, to be presented to the President of the Republic.
In the same context, he considered that adopting the formula of "one minister for every four deputies" is not a criterion relevant to the recent legislative elections' outcome, but could be part of the solution and could be adopted.
Asked about the LF-Baabda relations, the Minister stressed that the Lebanese Forces Party is keen on the success of Aoun's term and convinced that the second government will be much better than the first.
He also emphasized that the relationship with the President stems from three points, namely, the principles declared during Aoun's nomination from Maarab, the oath speech following Aoun's election and the partnership in achieving the presidential elections.
"The relationship with the President will not cease and I almost visit him every week or two or communicate with him, commissioned by LF Leader Samir Geagea, aside of my personal fondness for him," Riachy added.
In response to a question on the main topics discussed with the President, the Minister disclosed that the meeting touched on the dissociation policy, LF-FPM relations and distancing Lebanon from foreign conflicts.
Asked about the position of the Lebanese Forces concerning President Aoun's contact with Syrian President Bashar Assad, he said: "I did not talk to the President about this matter."
On the relation between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, Riachy refused the background of the rivalry between both sides to be the next presidential battle, referring to many perspectives on this subject. He reminded, herein, of what was agreed upon between the President and the LF Chief in the declaration of intent on June 2, 2015, that "any differences should not lead to disagreement."
"The President of the Republic, the LF Chief and the Patriarch are very keen on reconciliation, which they consider sacred," assured Riachy.
He emphasized that said reconciliation does not concern Lebanon alone, but also its eastern dimension, the Christians with all their force in the region, as well as the Christian-Islamic brotherhood. He added that the deep significance of this reconciliation did not only bring Christians to power in Lebanon, but also yielded political balance in the Lebanese State.
"Anyone who tries to overthrow the reconciliation will be cursed by the ancestors and history," Riachy underscored.
He continued to refer to a previous bet that the Lebanese Forces would not reap victory in the parliamentary elections. "It is our right to invest our victories in power," said Riachy, explaining that the Maarab Agreement clearly and explicitly points to the agreed upon quota: six ministers for the Lebanese Forces and their allies, six ministers for the Free Patriotic Movement and its allies, and three ministers for the President in case of a 30-member cabinet. "In the case of a 24-member government, then it would be 5-5-2 Christian ministers, and the President can decide on having 10 of the Muslim ministers," he explained.
The Information Minister criticized herein the attempts to distort a recent statement by the LF Chief regarding the President's share of ministers within cabinet, assuring that "if Geagea did not wish the President to have his own share, he would not have signed the Maarab Agreement that clearly stipulates his entitled share in this respect."
Moreover, Riachy stressed his Party's keen support for the current Presidential mandate.
Responding to a question on how the Maarab Understanding can thrive amidst the differences and disputes expressed via Twitter between the Ministers of Economy and Health and others, Riachy considered that "these are normal matters in the democratic life, especially that we are two allies and not followers. Some of the points in the debate will disappear when the new government is formed and a new page is opened, at which time each team will determine its relevant positions and stances."
"Contrary to all that is said, the manner of dealing within the Council of Ministers was very friendly and not negative," he added.
"I envy the Shiite dualism on the subject of appointments, and still do, knowing that our duality is not doomed, and we can do much more than the Shiite duality," Riachy went on. "We do not close our spectrum to others, but it is our right to represent our share, and not to be represented by others," he noted.
On the date of first of September set by the President of the Republic, Riachy said, "The President spoke to me about this matter. The first of September is the beginning of a more in-depth discussion with the Prime Minister, and in cooperation with him on the file of forming the government." "He will use all the powers vested in him by the Constitution after the Taef," Riachy added.
"The Prime Minister is not in need of anyone to urge him towards forming the government," he went on, noting that the Prime Minister is in need of eliminating the obstacles hindering the government's wheel from turning.
"We are also with the senate, administrative decentralization and the full implementation of the Taef Acoord, and in practice we believe in deeds, not words," Riachy said. "We have facilitated the task of the President of the Republic and told him that we will not hold on to the Deputy Prime Minister position if he wants it, as we facilitated the task of the Prime Minister when he asked Dr. Geagea to consent to four ministerial portfolios instead of five," said Riachy.
"I have briefed the President on these matters and the atmosphere was positive and excellent, contrary to all rumors...I informed him that we made all the concessions, and from now on he ought to offer us so that we can facilitate the cabinet formation," he disclosed.
On the work of the caretaking government, the Minister considered it "limited to the affairs of the State and ministries," noting that "time must take its toll for national consensus to form a government." He added that he is processing work at the Information Ministry in a regular and traditional manner regarding its internal aspects.
On the Lebanese Television dossier, Riachy noted that despite his good relations with the President of the Republic, he was unable to pass the issue of Tele-Liban due to a direct conflict with Minister Gebran Bassil.
"I do not blame Minister Bassil, for there are other parties in the government who did not help me pass the Information Ministry's restructuring project, which I worked on for a year and which was endorsed by the State Shoura and Civil Service Councils. It was not placed on the Council of Ministers' agenda," Riachy stated.
"I was neither able to pass the Editors' Syndicate project that could have rendered it [the Syndicate] the most pressing force in Lebanon," he added, hoping that the project would be placed on the next cabinet's agenda to be approved and referred to the Parliament Council.
Asked about the Syrian refugees issue and how to implement the Russian initiative regarding their return, in light of LF's objection to communication with the Syrian government, Riachy said, "We do not have to talk to the Syrian government to solve the crisis of the displaced and set up camps for them in safe areas."
"We know that 70 percent of Syria is destroyed and those who leave Lebanon will not be able to return to the destroyed houses...and reconstruction requires huge financial support from the big powers," Riachy went on. However, he explained that "considering the re-establishment of relations with Syria as the main effective factor for the return of refugees is exaggerated."
"All that is being said is to fill the lost time, awaiting the government formation and the modesty of some parties to re-consider their inflated demands...This is what hinders the cabinet formation," he underlined, noting that political parties are there to serve citizens and not the private interests of persons or sects.
On the summoning of some activists because of their views on social networks, Riachy said, "Not every word uttered by activists on the media is considered against the mandate...The summoning issue is not true. There is a court of publications that tries people for slander and no one is prosecuted for their positions."
"As a Minister of Information, I am against all these matters," he went on, noting that among his achievements was the free coverage provided by the Lebanese Television during the parliamentary elections for all people, despite the huge costs incurred by the Station in that respect.
Source: National News Agency