Speed Up Formation of Lebanese Government Before it is Late

  • 2 July 2008

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora's negotiations and deliberations regarding the formation of a new government have led nowhere so far, resulting in contradictory indicators of when the deal will be struck. Competition has widened between political forces about the different government portfolios, reminding everyone of the period prior to the "Doha Agreement" when tensions, disagreements, and media duels developed into infighting that threatened of a new civil war. Although negotiations sometimes led to easing of tensions that raised hopes that a government acceptable to all would be formed, new and unexpected developments always torpedoed the effort to finish the task that would allow the promising launch of President Michel Suleiman's administration. On his part, President Suleiman called upon all political forces to offer concessions that would allow for the formation of the new government which he sees as truly one of national unity, not one of conflict and discord. He even refrained from imposing a deadline in a goodwill effort to facilitate this vision.

The continuation of the state of inaction and vacillation in Siriora's efforts – which started over a month ago – threatens Lebanon and its people. Security, political, and economic conditions cannot wait any longer since the current failure to form the government only increases tensions between political groups, something that was evident in the spate of mutual accusations from the two political poles in the country. Delaying the formation also opens the door to the president to opt for other constitutional options at his disposal, although he has rejected resorting to them, preferring a national unity government in which everyone accepts peaceful coexistence and rejects conflicts and disputes.

The latest security problems in northern Lebanon – in which some people died and tens were injured – cannot be seen independently of what is happening politically. Indeed, they are direct results of the political situation. Such tensions are only expected to recur and add to the general atmosphere. Political forces are thus required to heed these dangers that, first and foremost, affect the Lebanese people whose suffering increases under these circumstances. Another casualty of the delay in the government's formation is the Lebanese economy which is preparing for another promising tourist season that would compensate the losses of the past two years.

It is essential for a new Lebanese government to be formed and for all political forces to do what they can to make that happen. Only that can offer the guarantee that the country's security and stability demand. It is also necessary for all to refrain from undergoing any unknown adventures that may hurt everyone, and not only this party or that. The country should not be returned to a political vacuum, although the formation of a new government will only be the beginning of a long trek of national dialogues and negotiations about all issues in dispute which, if unsolved, will be sources of tension and anxiety. Conquering all fears demands serious action to accomplish the task of forming a "national unity government" without delay.