Riachy says LF holding onto Maarab Agreement, no ‘external’ reason behind government formation delay

Caretaker Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, on Tuesday confirmed that the Lebanese Forces was committed to the Maarab Agreement concluded with the Free Patriotic Movement, adding that the party still holds onto this reconciliation.

"The agreement is highly serious and it notes the interests of the Christians and of Lebanon in the first place," Riachy told an interview on MTV channel.

"Those who read the agreement must do it with good intentions," he stressed.

On the meeting with the President of the republic, Riachy said the talks added a new dimension to the relationship between the LF and the FPM.

"We have turned the page of the Christians' sufferings and there is no going back to that phase," he underlined.

On the government formation, Riachy said that the distribution of ministerial shares among parties was the key issue and that no "external" reasons were behind the process delay.

"What is happening has to do with sheer political competition," he explained.

"The LF does not seek a share bigger than its actual size," he continued, stressing that the formation decision is in the hands of the Prime Minister-designate.

"On the LF side, the atmosphere is positive; we have offered a lot and we have made sacrifices for the sake of the government formation; this has nothing to do with the numbers of ministers or sovereign portfolios and the state policy," he went on to say.

"The formation issue is now depending on the talks between Future Movement and the FPM," he said.

"There is no external reason behind the delay; on the contrary, there is facilitation especially from Saudi Arabia," he indicated, denying any Saudi pressure on PM-designate Saad Hariri to grant the LF a considerable share in the new Cabinet.

Asked whether a meeting between LF leader Samir Geagea and FPM head Minister Gebran Bassil would take place, Riachy said that nothing prevented the encounter, but that "the real topic of the meeting" was yet to be crystallized.

Accordingly, he revealed that he was still awaiting the response of MP Ibrahim Kanaan, adding that the meeting can be held at any moment if need be.

Riachy concluded that he fully assumed his duty in the Ministry of Information as he turned it into a ministry of communication and dialogue, and overhauled its structure.

Source: National News Agency