INTERVIEW-Hezbollah, allies to boycott govt without veto

* Opposition to stay out of govt if no veto power-Franjieh

* Sees stability linked to guarantees on Hezbollah weapons

BNECHEI, Lebanon, June 13 (Reuters) - Hezbollah and its allies will not join a new Lebanese government unless they have veto power over its decisions, a leading Christian member of their alliance said on Saturday.

Suleiman Franjieh said that without veto power it would be better to stay in opposition than to join the new government, which is almost certain to be led by a rival U.S.-backed coalition that won a parliamentary election on Sunday.

"Let them rule and take the whole government, but without us as bystanders in it," Franjieh told Reuters in an interview.

"We will not hold things up. But we will refuse to join the government," added Franjieh, whose Marada movement won three of parliament's 128 seats in the election.

Hezbollah and its allies have veto power in the current cabinet, which was formed last year as part of a deal that defused a power struggle with the rival coalition headed by Saad al-Hariri. The Sunni politician is seen as a frontrunner to head the next cabinet.

Veto power was given to the Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah and its allies, including Christian politician Michel Aoun, in last year's deal by allocating them 11 of 30 cabinet seats.

"Any formulation not including the third-plus-one is rejected by the opposition. Without the third, the opposition will not participate in the government," Franjieh said, adding that his statement reflected the opposition's position.

Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem told Reuters this week the Shi'ite group and its allies had yet to agree a common stance on the new government. He would not comment on whether veto power would be a condition for participation. [nLA80171]

Hariri, who has firm Saudi backing, declined to discuss the issue in a Reuters interview on Friday, though he has previously described the existing power-sharing arrangement as unsuccessful. [nLC68015]


"The talk we are hearing from the others is very nice and positive, but it does not include the third," Franjieh said, speaking in his home village of Bnechei in northern Lebanon.

The demand for veto power was at the heart of the political conflict that paralysed Lebanon for 18 months under the administration of outgoing Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

Issues dividing the alliances include the role of Hezbollah's guerrilla army, which is stronger than the state's security forces, and relations with neighbouring Syria. Hariri's coalition has sought to curb Syrian influence in Lebanon.

Franjieh, a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Lebanon's political stability would be determined by guarantees from the majority coalition over issues including the role of Hezbollah's guerrilla force.

"If they violate fundamental issues that concern the weapons of the resistance, ... it will definitely lead to a state of instability," said Franjieh, a former interior minister.

Franjieh, 43, also flagged his concern over what he said was recent talk by foreign ambassadors about the idea of permanently settling Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which is home to 12 camps housing more than 200,000 registered refugees.

Discussion of the permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon -- an idea rejected by both Lebanese and Palestinians -- is sensitive because of the country's sectarian balance. The refugees are Sunni Muslim.

"I do not see this as coincidence. I think there is a new plan," Franjieh said. "I think the danger of settlement will be greater than anything else in Lebanon," he said. (Additional reporting by Laila Bassam; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)