Bouchikian attended the meeting, thus securing the quorum, although his name was mentioned among the nine ministers who announced their boycott on the eve of its convening.
Amidst the silence of the Tashnags and the inability to communicate with the party leadership or with the concerned minister, two stories emerge:
The first version says that the statement would not have mentioned Boushikian’s name had it not been preceded by the approval of the Tashnag leadership. Still, the one who did not adhere to it was Bouchikian for more than one reason.
Bouchikian is not a partisan but a supporter of the Tashnag. He has had a close relationship with PM Mikati for some time. In addition, the fact that Bouchikian owns a medical equipment factory and approving the bank’s request to transfer funds from the Special Drawing Rights to purchase medicines and medical supplies will allow the transfer of his dues.
As for the second version, Boushikian’s decision cannot be unilateral but that the Tashnag retreated as a result of mediation made by the Amal-Hezbollah duo in the last hours before the meeting.
The relationship between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Tashnag has always witnessed distinction, the latest of which was the election of speaker Nabih Berri amid FPM’s rejection, and before that, Tashnag’s naming of PM Najib Mikati, in difference to the FPM’s position.
In any case, and whatever the version, the result is the same: the Mikati-Berri-Hezbollah alliance has proven that it is capable of penetrating the government’s Christian bloc and that no one side owns the blocking third.
What did Hezbollah want by covering the meeting?
What happened cannot be separated from the presidential race to Baabda. The boycott of the meeting would accumulate Bassil’s popularity by portraying himself as the guarantor of Christian rights.
As for Hezbollah, the party wanted to tell Bassil that the margins for maneuver are open and that it is best to open the door to the discussion at the point at which it stopped, that is, the candidacy of Suleiman Frangieh.
The party wanted to deliver the second message to opponents who are betting on the paralysis of institutions to impose their presidential candidate.
Hezbollah established by securing the cover for the meeting that it can manage people’s affairs with its current alliances until the presidential settlement matures.
So, from Nejmeh Square to the Government Serail, the presidential battle has moved, and it seems that it will be long and mobile.