Joseph Haboush| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A majority of Lebanon’s lawmakers are expected to give their vote of confidence in the new government when Parliament convenes Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the new Cabinet’s policy statement. Prime Minister Saad Hariri believes that his government will get at least 100 out of the 128 possible votes, he said over the weekend from the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“We will do our job and the MPs have the freedom to vote as they wish. The government includes most political parties, and it is a consensus government. If the parties represented by the government are counted, the government will receive at least 100 votes,” he said.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri will head the two-day session Tuesday and Wednesday with morning and evening meetings. The lawmakers will vote on the policy statement, which was drafted in less than a week by a 10-member ministerial committee and will put forth the new government’s main objectives.
Hariri told the audience at the summit that this government would be different because its policy includes all the laws that must pass in Parliament and “we took a unanimous decision from all political parties that this is the only way to save Lebanon.”
But the legislative branch’s single civil society lawmaker isn’t buying the argument.
“This is a copy of the former government with the same ingredients except a different distribution of shares,” MP Paula Yacoubian told The Daily Star.
Without stating names, she said that the two most corrupt ministers in the last government, who Yacoubian accused of making mistakes and making the Lebanese people pay the price, have remained in their posts.
She said that the increase in female representation in the new government was the only positive development, but said there was no indication that this government will do anything differently than the previous one.
“So for sure, [I’ll vote] no confidence. They [ministers] don’t trust each other. So how will the people or me trust them?”
Another party that has voiced opposition to the government – despite being represented in it – is the Progressive Socialist Party.
Walid Joumblatt, the PSP leader, launched a scathing tirade against Hariri in the first days of the new government, claiming that the premier and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil were abandoning the Taif Accord, which ended the 1975-90 Civil War.
Joumblatt also told Hariri via Twitter while ministers were drafting the policy statement that the state was not the premier’s “property.“
Although an understanding was reached and calm restored between the two sides, the PSP will not remain quiet Tuesday.
“We will give our vote of confidence as we are part of the government, but we have fundamental reservations,” said Wael Abu Faour, the new industry minister and an MP affiliated with the PSP.
The Lebanese Forces are expected to give a vote of confidence in the government along with a statement registering opposition to an article dealing with the means of resisting the Israeli occupation, an indirect reference to Hezbollah’s weapons.
The new government’s policy statement will retain the language used in the last government’s regarding Hezbollah’s arms. It states that the government will spare no effort to liberate remaining occupied land, while simultaneously stressing “the right of the state with its institutions and people to resist Israeli occupation and repulse its attacks.”
The LF requested that “legal state” be added before “institutions,” but it was not added.
The three-member bloc of the Kataeb Party, which is now a self-declared opposition party, might also refuse to give their vote of confidence in the new government.
Hariri’s political allies in the now-defunct March 14 coalition appear to be the only ones who will have reservations, implying his government is set to receive a sweeping majority of votes.