BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri defended in remarks published Monday a recent initiative he put forward to end the political deadlock in the country, denying parts of it aimed at undermining the prerogatives of the president and prime minister-designate.
“My dialogue initiative does not aim in any way at undermining the prerogatives of the president, caretaker prime minister or prime minister-designate,” Berri told As-Safir newspaper.
“However, it aims at reviving dialogue among the Lebanese and bridging the gap between rivals to end the current crisis,” he added.
Berri said his initiative – which proposes a five-day conclave for Dialogue to be attended by March 8 and March 14 leaders, in addition to PM-designate Tammam Salam, to address thorny and divisive issues –was discussed during a recent meeting with former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
The meeting, he said, had been “positive.”
The agenda of the proposed Dialogue would focus both on the makeup and policy statement of the new Cabinet, a national defense strategy, the means to put an end to Lebanese intervention in the Syrian conflict, revival of talks on a new electoral law, and a road map to resolve the socioeconomic crisis.
The Future Movement, which heads the March 14 opposition coalition, has rejected the initiative, arguing the Cabinet formation falls under the mandate of Salam and President Michel Sleiman.
In separate remarks to An-Nahar newspaper, Berri said that it was still too early to address the subject of the presidential election, which is due next year.
“It is still too early to address this matter. I think we won’t begin discussing the issue till March,” he said.
President Sleiman’s term ends in May 2014.