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The New Opposition Should Give the Mikati Cabinet a Chance

By Hassan El-Khalil

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 27, 2011


For the last four months and some, Lebanese people have been patiently waiting for the formation of their cabinet.  Finally couple of weeks ago, within minutes, by miracle, the cabinet was formed.  We were told that a holy revelation fell on the speaker of the house, over the reliable phone lines of the Lebanese cell phone companies, on his way to the presidential palace.  Many Lebanese cheered for the formation of the new cabinet and many others were disappointed.  The cabinet was called many different names; it was declared as a failure instantly because as the opposition claims, it is one color cabinet and it represents only one group of the Lebanese people.

 Whether we agree with the formation of the cabinet, its timing, or its ministers; a cabinet is better than no cabinet for the following reasons:

1-     Since the assassination of the late prime minister Rafic Harriri in 2005,  Lebanese politicians

Struggled to form a functional cabinet.  All possible formations were undertaking and none has worked including the infamous “the Secured Third” that was agreed upon at the Doha meeting of Lebanese politicians after Lebanon was facing the possibility of civil war.  For the last five years, the government did not accomplish any meaningful projects, provide adequate services, or improved the daily lives of the Lebanese people.  For the most part of the last five years, the cabinet could not even meet; it seems that the main function of the cabinets in the last five years was to maintain the status quo, no more.  While Lebanese politicians are debating whether to meet or not, whether to lease a ship to generate electricity, the Lebanese people are living, in the 21st century, without electricity; without water, without any form of modern transportation system and most importantly without security.  Of course, I need not mention the health care, social security and many other pressing issues like the oil in the Mediterranean.  As Lebanese politicians are fighting over few positions, Israel and Cypress are about to extract oil, split the profit and steal our natural resources.  Thanks to the new Foreign Minister who was aware of this issue and his first order of business was to issue a letter to the secretary of the United Nations contesting the agreement between Israel and Cypress. 

The Prime minister stated many times that he would like Lebanese to judge him and his cabinet based on his actions and not his statements.  Mr. Prime Minister, we will take you up on this statement and we will be waiting to see what you will be offering the Lebanese people.   

Whether we agree with this cabinet or not, it is only prudent for us to give it a chance to prove itself.  If the national unity governments in the last five years did not accomplish anything, maybe, only maybe this one color cabinet may accomplish something for the Lebanese.  This cabinet will succeed only if it solves the electricity problem, but will it? 

2-     Of course there are much important issues than electricity that are of national concerns such as dealing with the international tribunal and its impending indictment; the Palestinian weapon inside and outside the camps, the lawless areas, the Palestinian armed bases;  and many other important national issues.  Having no cabinet at this time is like hiding behind our finger.  A cabinet is a must to address the several pending issues that affect the daily lives of Lebanese people.  The way this cabinet handles the international tribunal’s indictment, primarily, determines its survival.  The question that raises itself, can the cabinet face off with the United Nations, the world community? Would it be willing to accept the burden of classifying Lebanon as a lawless state? Would it positively deal with the International Tribunal? What if the indictment names Hezbollah members?    I am sure Cabinet members who are busy preparing the Cabinet statement are thinking about these contingencies and are considering them, hopefully.  The cabinet’s present position is not envious because if it decides to ignore the International Court’s indictment, then it will have a confrontation with the UN and the international community; an option the government cannot afford.  If on the other hand, the cabinet opts to comply with the indictment, would the cabinet be willing to deliver Lebanese nationals to the international Court? Even if these nationals are members of Hezbollah?     

3-           Regardless of whether we agree with the formation of this cabinet, the opposition should act constructively and oppose intelligently.  Rather than jumping into abrupt objections, only for the sake of objection, the opposition shall form a practical unified front and be ready to offer alternatives to any objectionable proposal, law, or project.  For many years, we learned the hard ways; podiums tell stories and do not solve problems.  The Lebanese people heard a lot from all Lebanese politicians and now demand actions; actions, in the least, in the form of 24 hours of electricity, water, health care, social security, modern traffic law, etc…

Since the formation of the Mikati cabinet, the opposition sounded as disoriented as the arrogance of some newly selected cabinet members.   The opposition should have the nerve to agree when they must and propose alternatives when they disagree.  They should be ready to step in and fill the gap when asked for the sake of Lebanon.  After all, the Mikati appointment to form a cabinet went through all of the appropriate constitutional channels; if anything, we should respect it and give it a chance to act because it was formed constitutionally.

4-     Lebanese people should judge the cabinet and the opposition based on their actions.  If the

 Mikati cabinet is successful in winning the hearts of Lebanese, by providing electricity 24 hours a day and many other services, (now I feel I am dreaming) then who knows, he may be re-elected in the next parliamentary election and then to form a new cabinet again!  At that time he will run based on his track record.

Governments, cabinets, positions are not owned by an individual, family or group.  We should always be ready to entertain the idea of power sharing or alternate power.  Rotation of power should be based on track records and not mere popularity.  We should always be ready to provide several alternatives to one problem.  We should be in a position to do better and allow the Lebanese people to judge their politicians based on their records and not because they are the tribal leaders.  The Mikati government deserves a chance!

5-           The burden on the Mikati cabinet is tremendous.  The Mikati cabinet must do better than its predecessors to prove to the opposition and to the Lebanese people that it deserves the chance it asked for!  After all, the Lebanese people shall decide the credibility of the Mikati cabinet.  If it fails in its promises, the Lebanese people will punish it and Mr. Mikati in 2013; if it delivers, the Lebanese people are in good hands and the opposition is in the hot seat to prove that they can do better than the Mikati cabinet to deserve a place in power. 

From now until the next parliamentary election, despite of disparities, we all should put our differences aside, stand behind the Mikati Cabinet, support it, and provide all of the help it seeks to assure it success.  If the opposition thinks otherwise, it should organize, plan, and be ready to provide better alternatives when the Lebanese people decide in the 2013 election.   




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