| 08.03,12. 01:38 AM |
Berri Stresses Jumblat still Part of Parliamentary Majority
Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that National Struggle Front leader Walid Jumblat was still part of the March 8 parliamentary majority despite accusations that he had joined the March 14 opposition.
In remarks to several newspapers published Wednesday, Berri said: “The March 14 team should be comforted. Walid Jumblat is still in the majority … and still one of its leaders.”
His remarks came after several parties said Jumblat, who is also the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, went back to support the March 14 coalition following a decision by his lawmakers to boycott last Monday’s legislative session along with opposition MPs.
On Tuesday, Change and Reform bloc leader Michel Aoun said that Jumblat was never part of the parliamentary majority and accused him of only seeking to ensure his own interests.
Aoun’s accusation along with criticism by other members of the March 8 forces came despite assurances by Jumblat that his bloc’s decision to boycott the session lied in its insistence on finding a political solution to a dispute on extra-budgetary spending.
“This doesn’t mean that we are no longer part of the ruling majority,” he was quoted as saying on Monday.
The March 14 forces and Jumblat’s bloc did not attend Monday’s session that was scheduled to discuss among other things a 2011 $5.9 billion spending bill referred to parliament by Premier Najib Miqati’s cabinet. The opposition has conditioned its approval of the bill to a settlement of spending made by the governments of ex-PMs Fouad Saniora and Saad Hariri between 2006 and 2010.
Berri stressed that there is nothing wrong with Jumblat having his own thoughts within the parliamentary majority. This thwarts accusations by March 14 forces that Miqati’s cabinet is ruled by Hizbullah, he said.
Berri also warned that those who want to harm his ties with Jumblat would fail.