Friday, January 4, 2008

Sheikh Kasem: Lebanon Presidential Void is US Decision

Al-Manar Exclusive

"04/01/2008 Hezbollah deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem unveiled a decision by Washington to keep Fouad Saniora as "Prime Minister." Sheikh Kassem's words came as Lebanon is witnessing strained political wrangling and rows between the loyalty and opposition blocs over the guaranteeing one third of ministers in a national unity government. "We know exactly why you (loyalty) don't want the guaranteeing third. Two months ago, and I have to reveal this, one of the main figures in the country held a meeting with Feltman (US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman) and the dialogue was related to us by a third party. Feltman said that he had told the February 14 bloc that they only have two choices; either to elect a president with the half-plus-one formula or to let Saniora's government continue ruling. When asked about seeking a way to bring MP Saad Hariri on top of the government, Feltman said that we (Washington) prefer Saniora over Hariri to top the government; however we cannot accomplish this through normal procedures. It is best that Saniora's government keeps ruling even if this goes on until parliamentary elections (2009)." Sheikh Kassem challenged the February 14 bloc to go for early elections if this dialogue never took place......"

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