07/06/2005, 00.00
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Aoun's refusal to join Lebanon's new government complicates its formation

by Youssef Hourany
In an interview with AsiaNews the Christian leader accuses Jumblatt. Amal and Hizbollah want Foreign Ministry to block UN resolution on the latter's disarmament.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – General Aoun's refusal to join Lebanon's new government unless his party gets the Justice Ministry is complicating the political situation in Beirut. "The government has imploded even before being set up," Aoun said in an interview with AsiaNews.

The Christian leader, who says he does not want to be in the cabinet unless his demands are met, accuses Druze leader Walid Jumblatt without naming him for the decision.

"The one who is responsible for what has happened is behaving as if he were the leader of the parliamentary majority rather than Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora," Aoun said.

"Those who have opposed my nomination as Justice Minister are themselves open to prosecution and their files could become a national case," he added.

Aoun stressed that the largest party led by Saad Hariri was interested only in the Finance and Interior Ministries and explained why he wanted the Justice Ministry, namely to restore the judiciary's independence.

He wonders why this sudden concern over a Ministry no one wanted before. In his opinion, this interest "shows that those who are attacking us are involved in the cases [that could go before the courts] and that some people do not want us to cooperate with Saad Hariri within the framework of a government of national unity".

In response to a question about his decision's effect on a possible crisis, General Aoun said that "it was up to Fouad Siniora and the President, General Emile Lahoud".

As to a possible compromise, his answer left little doubt. "Under these conditions, negotiations are impossible. Some people do not know the basic principles of politics. What's more, they never assume their responsibilities; instead, they raise obstacles without proposing any positive solutions".

Clouds looming over the new Lebanese governments have become even darker after the pro-Syrian Shiite parties of Hizbollah and Amal demanded the key Foreign Ministry. For some observers, this demand would allow them to block the road to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 which demands Hizbollah's disarmament—until now, Hizbollah has rejected the demand.

Siniora has however turned down their request on the grounds that the Foreign Ministry was led in the last few years by a Shiite, Mahmud Hammud (who is close to Amal), and must now go to another community as required by the principle of rotation among the country's major religious groups.

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