Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel announced on Wednesday that the party's bloc will withhold its confidence vote from the new government, saying that the Cabinet lacks the basic factors to gain trust.
“We cannot give our vote of confidence in advance, but we hope that it will gain it if it acted right,” Gemayel said in his address at the Parliament on the second day of sessions held to debate the government's policy statement ahead of a confidence vote.
"We cannot give our vote of confidence to a government that was formed based on partitioning and whose components do not trust each other,” he stated. “Is there any trust between the Future Movement and Hezbollah ministers, or between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces ministers, or between the Progressive Socialist Party and the Free Patriotic Movement? We cannot give our vote of confidence to a government that lacks harmony and trust among its members.”
“We cannot give our vote of confidence to a government that took nine months to be formed and only two hours to draft its policy statement which is supposed to take lengthy discussions given that it represents the rescue plan for the country,” Gemayel noted. "Partitioning should have take less time because it is secondary and trivial compared to the interest of the country.”
“It is not possible to grant the vote of confidence to the government because it is the continuation of a previous failed Cabinet; 80% of the ministries are still assumed by the same political forces,” he noted. “How can we trust that the same political class which has been in power for the past few years will reduce the public deficit that has increased by 125% since 2017?”
“We will support any positive measure that the government will take because we hold onto the need to make reforms. However, most of the reformist measures mentioned in the policy statement were not applied before,” Gemayel cautioned.
“Why didn't you previously apply the reforms that you are promising today?”
Gemayel said that the new government was actually "engineered" by Hezbollah, adding that the party imposed its conditions on the government formation by enforcing the participation of its Sunni and Druze allies in its line-up, undermining the Lebanese Forces party's share, and preventing the President of the Republic from having the veto power inside the government.
The Kataeb chief pointed out that recent developments and statements show that Hezbollah is influencing the major political events in the country, citing FM Gebran Bassil who clearly stated that President Aoun wouldn't have been in office hadn't it been for Hezbollah.
“This statement proves that Hezbollah has a great influence on the formation of constitutional authorities in Lebanon, be it the presidency, the electoral law or the government formation," he said, blaming ther presidential settlement for this state of imbalance.
"I say to Christian politicians: when your presence in power is linked to the relinquishment of your freedom and of Lebanon’s sovereignty, then partnership becomes unreal."
“We are not attacking anyone. We simply want the country's sovereignty and the basic foundations of nation building to be respected. We just want the Lebanese military to be the sole armed power in Lebanon. This cannot pass unnoticed or be disregarded,” Gemayel said.
The Kataeb leader said that his party was being accused of populism for calling for the same things that those in power today claim that they want to achieve, especially when it comes to increasing the State's revenues without resorting to tax hikes or imposing new levies.
“The policy statement pledges to provide a 24/24 electricity supply but fails to mention how this will happen. Have you agreed on or rejected the power barges’ deal? If you’ve let go of the deal, then someone must be held accountable for halting this file for two years. If you have agreed on it, then we would like to know what has changed in the mind of those who were previously objecting to it?” Gemayel said.
“You are also talking about an employment freeze in the public sector during 2019; why didn’t you do that last year? More than 5000 people were employed in the public sector, without counting those admitted into security forces agencies and the military,” he noted.
“When we were struggling to stop the establishment of waste landfills along the coastline, the government pledged that this project will not be launched without carrying out in advance a study on its environmental impact. Nonetheless, waste has been dumped in the sea and the residents of coastal areas have been forced into displacement and diseases, while no study has been conducted to date. Kindly, do not request an environmental impact study from anyone unless you are ready to do the same about the sea dumping project."
“We hope that you remain united with each other and not to bother yourselves to engage in any brawls," Gemayel addressed the new ministers. "You do your job as a government, and we will do ours as an opposition; that way Lebanon could benefit from the government and the opposition."
“I wish the new government all the best because the country can no longer withstand misery.. It is not possible for a country to succeed without the presence of an opposition force, supervision and accountability,” he highlighted.
Gemayel saluted the citizens who gave their votes to the opposition in the latest polls, thanking them for allowing the Parliament to have "resistant" and "free" voices for the four upcoming years.
He also salute the "heroes" who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country, stressing that the martyrs deserve that we don't compromise their struggle for a free, sovereign, and independent State.
"Likewise, the Lebanese deserve a different political performance and a country that meets their aspirations; a country where the government is formed in less than a week, people are not suffering from poverty, expensive school and hospitalization fees, where the environment, economy and public services are at the heart of the political life, where there are no armed parties imposing its own conditions on others, where it is normal that the opposition force criticizes the government while lawmakers representing forces inside the government would defend it, where roads are not blocked and citizens are not stuck in traffic every time the Parliament convenes, and where no one yields to fear and personal interests."
“I know that this country does not exist today, but we will struggle to reach it. We do not fear to dream or to fight for our dream. In the direst circumstances, we did not despair and we only cared for Lebanon’s interest, not positions."