By Riya Shartouni
BEIRUT (AA) - Three former Lebanese prime ministers issued a joint statement Tuesday deploring President Michel Aoun’s treatment of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and accusing him of overriding the country's constitution.
Fouad Siniora, Tammam Salam and Najib Mikati said Aoun wanted to embarrass Hariri and sought to push him to quit from forming a government.
"Hariri's sticking to his government forming proposal is not a case of intransigence or exaggeration but a response to what the Lebanese people and Lebanon's friends in the world want," the statement said.
According to the Lebanese constitution, there is no fixed deadline for the prime minister-designate to form the government, by which Hariri can decide whether to quit or stick with his government proposal.
On Monday, Hariri said he rejected Aoun's proposal for forming a government that suggests offering his Free Patriotic Movement one third of the cabinet seats.
The one third of cabinet seats means having blocking and veto power over the government's decisions and policies.
The former premiers also reaffirmed their respect for the Lebanese constitution and the national pact of the Taif Agreement.
The 1989 Taif Agreement, which ended Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990), established a power-sharing formula based on quotas that divide the main positions between the three main components -- Christians, Sunnis and Shias.
The statement added that attempts to put the situation in Lebanon in a sectarian context will not succeed and called for taking steps towards forming a salvation government.
The Lebanese presidency has yet to comment on the statement.
Lebanon is facing a severe economic crisis and deterioration in living conditions, with the Lebanese pound losing nearly all its value against the US dollar.
Streets across the country have been blocked by protests and rallies for the past month over the current situation, which is the worst for the Lebanese people since the civil war.
*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara