Lebanon’s Hezbollah insists on a coalition government

BEIRUT (AP) — The head of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said on Friday the best emergency government to deal with the country’s worsening economic crisis is one that includes all political groups.

Hassan Nasrallah’s comments indicated there was no resolution yet on who should head an emergency government, two months after Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on October 29.

Protests erupted October 17 over proposed new taxes and spiralled into calls for the entire political elite to step down. The protesters have also said they won’t accept Hariri as returning prime minister.

Consultations between President Michel Aoun and parliamentary blocs to name a new premier were expected tomorrow. They were postponed once before over disagreements on naming a new premier.

Nasrallah’s comments were also a rejection of a proposition put forward by political ally Gebran Bassil, who called for a government made up of experts and said he won’t take part in one headed by Hariri. Bassil said on Thursday a government picked by Hariri, according to his conditions, would be destined to fail.

Hariri had said he wants a government without political groups, made up of technocrats alone.

“The patriotic duty calls for everyone to take responsibility, to take part and for all to offer concessions,” Nasrallah said in an 70-minute speech in which he characterised the situation in Lebanon as dire. “How can a government from one group deal with a crisis of this nature?”

He said any “salvation government would have to take unpopular measures,” and can’t afford to engage in disagreements with other political parties.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah had supported a coalition government headed by Hariri, but said the resigned prime minister laid down conditions his group found “inappropriate and some of them were exclusionary.” He didn’t elaborate but urged him to give up some of his conditions.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah is ready to support a consensus candidate for the premier post, but only as part of a coalition government that represents everyone.

Supporters of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah hold his pictures and waves Hezbollah flags in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. PHOTO: AP