Hezbollah ‘open’ to French proposal for new political order in Lebanon
Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday said that his Shiite movement is “open” to a French proposal for a new political pact for Lebanon as long as there is national consensus.
“On his latest visit to Lebanon, we heard a call from the French president for a new political pact in Lebanon… today we are open to a constructive discussion in this regard,” Nasrallah said in a speech.
“But we have one condition: this discussion should be carried out… with the will and consent of the various Lebanese factions.”
Nasrallah did not elaborate on what kind of changes his movement was willing to consider but cited criticsm from “official French sources” over Lebanon’s “sect-based political system and its inability to solve Lebanon’s problems and respond to its needs.”
Lebanon recognises 18 official religious sects and its 128 parliamentary seats are divided equally between Muslims and Christians, an arrangement unique in the region.
However, governments born out of this system have been prone to deadlock and have failed to meet popular demands for better living conditions.
Macron, the first world leader to visit Lebanon after the devastating August 4 Beirut port blast, will return on Monday to press for reform and reconstruction.
On his earlier visit days after the blast, the French president said Lebanese leaders had a “huge” responsibility: “that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change.”
The explosion of a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, left to languish for years in a warehouse, prompted the government to step down on August 10 and reignited a months-old protest movement demanding a political overhaul.
Consultations to name a new premier are set to begin on Monday in tandem with Macron’s visit.
Nasrallah said his movement would be “cooperative” in the formation of a government capable of spearheading reform and reconstruction.
Many Lebanese have blamed the August 4 port blast on a ruling class seen as mired in nepotism and graft since the 1975-1990 civil war.
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The explosion killed more than 180 people and laid entire districts to waste, reviving a protest movement that had emerged in October to demand the wholesale removal of the political elite.
On Friday, Macron spoke of the “constraints of a confessional system” in a country populated by Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shiites.
He said this, combined with “what can be mildly described as vested interests” had prevented political renewal and made reforms almost impossible.