Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Thursday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
As-Safir: Policy statement: Economic differences, adoption of proportional representation elections
If all goes well, the draft policy statement of the new government is expected to be finalized by the end of this week.
While Gen. Michel Aoun’s team and March 14 forces continued to exchange heavy political shelling, the ministerial committee held another session Wednesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Najib Mikati in which the review of the statement was completed.
The STL issue, however, had been postponed to the final stage of discussions that may take, according to Cabinet ministers, more than one or two sessions to be finalized.
During Wednesday’s ministerial committee meeting, discussions also touched on the electoral law. There was a near total agreement on the adoption of an electoral system of proportional representation with a pledge that the government will develop a modern law no later than a year from the date of the elections.
Speaker Nabih Berri, meanwihle, told As-Safir that the “Americans, as well as many of their European allies, believed that we will not succeed in forming a government, as was the case with a number of their allies, the Europeans … But the formation of the government came as a surprise and a shock to many in more than one place, both internally and externally."
“Frankly, the Americans want to get their own man to head the [Lebanon] government … they repeatedly give us lessons in democracy,” Berri said.
He said March 14 “has not yet believed, and does not want to believe, that it is no longer in power.”
Al-Akhbar: Third [committee] meeting: STL [debate] delayed
After installing the diamond triangle "the army, the people and the resistance," the ministerial committee tasked with drafting a policy statement eased Wednesday and began tackling financial and development issues. The golden article, however – “Tribunal” [Special Tribunal for Lebanon – did not find its way to the table.
Information Minister Walid Daouk was repeatedly asked about whether the committee had discussed the STL in its third meeting Wednesday, but he asserted this item had not been discussed at all.
What had not been discussed during the ministerial committee meeting was however discussed at a meeting between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and EU ambassadors, who defined in a joint statement what is "important" for the new government – the adoption of a ministerial statement that supports Lebanon’s commitments to international obligations, not least with regard to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1757 on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and determined what the government “should” do – allow the STL to follow-up on its work without hindrance and with the cooperation of Lebanese authorities.
An-Nahar: No agreement on [Cabinet policy on] STL
High-ranking ministerial sources told An-Nahar that that article in the policy statement dealing with the “army, people and resistance” had been approved at Wednesday’s ministerial committee meeting after the inclusion of some comments made by members of the committee.
The sources said there had been a tentative agreement on the adoption of an electoral system based on proportional representation.
Other items on the policy statement dealing with ministries, departments had been discussed and are expected to be tackled again in a fourth meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Al-Liwaa: March 14 leaders meet overnight, set up crisis management cell
According to information made available to Al-Liwaa, March 14 leaders plan to hold an expanded meeting tantamount to Bristol-2 meeting, in which ex-PM Saad Hariri is likely to participate as part of preparations for the battle against the government inside Parliament, where there will be an overwhelming presence of opposition MPs.
A delegation from the March 14 secretariat general is also likely to head to Paris in the coming days for talks with Hariri, who has authorized the Future Movement to coordinate with the opposition. Discussions will focus on preparations for the confrontation “which may sometimes require sacrifices,” according to a March 14 official who visited Hariri in Paris a few days ago. MP Marwan Hamadeh and former MPs Fares Soueid and Samir Franjieh had joined that meeting.
A source familiar with the Paris meetings with Hariri said that the meetings resulted in an agreement to set up a management cell to deal with March 14’s day-to-day political position in its open battle with the Hezbollah- and the Syrian-led Lebanon government in an attempt to bring it down.
Al-Liwaa also learned that March 14 leaders met late Wednesday over this matter.
Al-Mustaqbal: Campaign against Aoun ongoing … Mikati ‘reassures’ international community of Lebanon’s commitments
As long as this revengeful-authoritarian mentality blinds prominent [political and government] leaders, particularly the "Rabieh general" – Michel Aoun – March 14 forces will not take long to declare their willingness to "close ranks to face off the Hezbollah, Syrian-made Lebanon government.”
March 14 will also not take long to declare a “popular, political, democratic and peaceful opposition’ so as not to allow some crisis-plagued figures in the government to continue their crises at the expense of the homeland.
Preparations are already under way by March 14 forces “to face all those seeking to undermine both Lebanon's stability and security.”