Mikati’s message and responses: Escalation to fill presidential vacancy?

Two statements were released by interim prime minister Najib Mikati’s press office in less than 12 hours, to respond to Free Patriotic Movement spokesmen in the media. In the first, which came out on Saturday evening, he named a movement official by name, while in the second he did not know the names of the platforms, and the response was limited to what he called “the Aounist media, passion, affiliation and funding.”

It is one of the rare moments in which the conflict enters the framework of direct responses. From previous debates on powers in the government formation dossier, and before that from debates with Energy Minister Walid Fayyad on electricity offers, the media war between the two sides has always been limited to sources, leaks and replies in elaborate diplomatic and political language.

The debate has entered the land of direct political competition. The Free Patriotic Movement has opened a declared war against the prime minister, against the backdrop of his call to hold a government session tomorrow, Monday, which Mikati defends with all his media tools, including the attack. He did not leave a loophole unanswered in order to prevent the transformation of the political confrontation into a sectarian struggle, in which the positions of sects and their powers are used in warfare.

The battle, in its potential, is eroding the powers and privileges of the sects. Although Mikati limits the justifications for holding the session to the living picture, Christians find themselves in the position of being “excluded” from the government. On the other hand, public utility management needs require a ministerial session with specific provisions, but contain political messages, not least that the country, in light of the stagnation in the presidential election process, is able to move forward, and it does not stop at intransigence and obstruction of the course of the election of the president.

The long wait, without consensus on a presidential file, will overthrow the Christian gains in executive authority. It is a message that prompted the Maronite patriarch Bechara Al-Rai to raise his voice and not give the go-ahead in full for tomorrow’s government meeting, as well as the “Lebanese Forces” party, which followed the example of the ” Free Patriot” in a statement by one of his parliamentary bloc members, MP Fadi Karam, on Saturday.

The presidential file was spinning in a vicious circle, with a deadly stalemate called “waiting”. The convocation of the session will not represent a normalization of the void, in light of the rigid Christian positions. It will reshuffle the cards, out of respect for the statute and existing customs to protect the balance, including the powers and privileges of the sects. Consequently, the more the media war escalates, the more it will push towards a consensus that will lead to the filling of the presidential vacancy, which it is believed will be activated within a few weeks.

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