BEIRUT — Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech Tuesday evening in which he assured the participation of Hezbollah ministers at Wednesday's cabinet meeting.
He clarified that their participation is not meant to "challenge" any other party. The was scheduled amid disagreement between the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) — Hezbollah's political ally — and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on whether the cabinet can convene during a presidential vacancy.
Nasrallah said his party's ministers "will only discuss electricity matters [during the meeting] because other files that are not urgent." He insisted that the cabinet meeting "needs to take place."
"We commit to partake in the meeting to fix the issue of the electricity, not to challenge anyone," Nasrallah clarified. "If the ministers move on with articles on the agenda other than the electricity, we leave the session."
"There are urgent matters," Nasrallah continued. "You can't exclude any of them: health, economy, medicine, or electricity. We are pressured by the needs of people ... The subject is related to our beliefs and our conscience for the needs of people."
In December 2022, a cabinet session was convened without most of the FPM's ministers. Earlier in the day on Tuesday, FPM criticized the scheduling of a "severed" caretaker cabinet meeting, which the party described as "unconstitutional."
"All ministers who participate in the cabinet meetings will bear responsibility for assaulting the National Pact and violating the Constitution," the FPM added.
Nasrallah challenged politicians from parties opposed to Hezbollah "to make use of their friendship" with the United States and pressure the US to allow Lebanon to accept Iranian fuel.
Nasrallah blamed the US for obstructing the arrival of Iranian fuel for Lebanon's electricity power plants. In September, Lebanon sent a delegation to Iran to discuss the matter but no progress has been made.
During a visit to Beirut last week, Iran's top diplomat, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, reiterated that Tehran is "ready to provide Lebanon with fuel and to build power plants."
Warning to Rai
Nasrallah also seemed to respond to Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai, who last week said that, due to the presidential vacancy, there is "a plan in place that aims to establish a vacancy in the posts [reserved for] Maronites and [other] Christians."
In Lebanon, the presidency is traditionally held by a Maronite figure.
"We understand the eagerness of some religious figures to elect a Lebanese president and put an end to the current vacancy, and we understand that some religious figures pressure MPs and the political groups represented in Parliament to speed up the election of a president, but any language that could trigger sectarian conflicts should be avoided," Nasrallah warned.
"No plan from anyone to cause a vacuum in the top Maronite state positions," he added. "If the vacancy continues, there'll also be administrative vacancies in other administrations held by other sects."
Hezbollah's two main Christian allies —Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh and FPM leader Gebran Bassil — are unofficial candidates for the presidency. Hezbollah made it clear that it favors the candidacy of Frangieh, while Bassil vehemently rejected all potential support for his rival.
For the first time in its history, Lebanon is suffering from a double executive vacancy, both in the cabinet and the presidency. Parliament has held ten presidential election sessions, without success.
Parliament is scheduled to meet again on Thursday for an eleventh attempt.