Nasrallah insists on two Sunni blocs in parliament, while saying that he and Speaker Nabih Berri will relinquish none of their Shia seats.
BEIRUT - “I am the father of Sunnis,” boomed Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on November 14, replying to claims by Hezbollah that he no longer solely represents Lebanese Sunnis.
Hariri insists on giving no cabinet seat to members of the Hezbollah-backed “Sunni opposition,” who claim to have a parliamentary bloc of ten members of parliament.
By norm, this entitles them to one or two seats in government. Hariri insists on giving them none, however, saying that they have six, not ten, seats in the chamber of deputies, leaving Sunni representation exclusively in the hands of his Future Movement.
“I refuse to accept (accusations) that Saad Hariri is triggering sectarian tension,” he said, referring to himself in third person, adding: “Our (Future) Movement is cross-sectarian.”
His father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, assassinated in 2005, was universally regarded as a
heavyweight Sunni politician throughout the Arab world.
By appointing himself “father” of the community, Saad Hariri is making claims to his father’s inheritance in leadership of “Sunni Lebanon.” His opponents say he cannot monopolise the community and needs to accept power sharing with Sunnis who are not members of his political orbit. His backers see Hezbollah as trying to have its own Sunni political faction.
Hariri’s news conference came after a televised appearance by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who bluntly said the Hariri cabinet will never see the light unless the “Sunni opposition” is adequately represented.