President Michel Aoun should call for an “early presidential vote” if he is “unable” to sign the decrees of a specialist, nonpartisan government, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said on Wednesday, in a swift response to remarks voiced by the president.
“I was surprised, like all Lebanese, by His Excellency the President inviting me through a televised address to the presidential palace for the immediate formation of a government,” Hariri said in a written statement.
“Seeing as I have visited His Excellency the President 16 times since being designated premier… to agree on a government of nonpartisan specialists, I answer him that I will be honored to visit him for a 17th time… to discuss with him the line-up that has been present in his hands since several weeks, and to reach an immediate declaration of the cabinet line-up,” Hariri added.
“If His Excellency the President finds himself unable to sign the decrees of a government of nonpartisan specialists that can implement the needed reforms… he will have to be frank with the Lebanese about the real reason pushing him to try to impede the will of parliament, which had picked the PM-designate,” Hariri went on to say.
He added that Aoun can “shorten the suffering of the Lebanese by allowing for an early presidential vote.”
This is “the only constitutional method capable of annulling the effect of him being chosen by MPs for the presidency five years ago, exactly the same as they have chosen me as PM-designate five months ago,” Hariri said.
In a televised address earlier on Wednesday, Aoun called on Hariri to form the government or quit.
“Out of my oath, and after PM-designate Saad Hariri presented a draft cabinet line-up that does not meet the minimum requirements of national balance and respect for the National Pact, which plunged the country into the tunnel of paralysis, I invite him to the Baabda Palace, for the immediate formation of the government in agreement with me and according to the applicable constitutional mechanism and standards for the formation of governments, without excuses or delay,” Aoun said.
He added: “Should he find himself incapable of forming and leading a national salvation government that would tackle the dangerous situations that the country and its people are going through, he should make way for anyone who is capable of forming a government.”