BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam urged Arab tourists to return to Lebanon and experience for themselves the security his Cabinet imposed on the country, saying he hoped that the next president would be “made in Lebanon.”
“Arabs should come to Lebanon to witness firsthand the excellent security we were able to impose,” Salam said in an interview to be published Tuesday in Kuwait-based Al-Qabas newspaper.
“All political parties have expressed desire to help maintain such a reality because they recognize Lebanon needs a phase of calm, stability and openness,” he added.
Salam was referring to the nationwide security plan approved by his government and devised by the Higher Defense Council which allowed security forces to restore law and order in most areas in the country.
The plan, which was launched April 1, has so far succeeded in restoring relative stability to conflict areas, particularly the northern city of Tripoli and regions bordering Syria. The country has witnessed a drastic decline in suicide bombings and attacks linked to crisis next door.
Salam boasted of his government’s achievements, saying his Cabinet made "great accomplishments in the security field, revitalized the economy, especially in Tripoli and the north, and resumed work in the oil and gas sector."
“The political parties in the government are very cooperative which allowed [us] to better control security in Tripoli and other areas, and put an end to suicide attacks, kidnapping and killings,” he said.
“This only means that when the state decides on something, nothing can stand in its way,” Salam, who formed a national unity cabinet on Feb. 15, added.
He also attributed the deteriorating situation in Lebanon to what he described as a weak and divided state.
Asked about his possible regional tour, Salam said he was looking forward to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “which we share deep-rooted historic ties with.”
“I hope to go on this trip as soon as possible because we have come a long way in our domestic issues and it is time we start working abroad,” he said.
Speaking on the presidential election, Salam said his government did not seek to fill a presidential void.
“The positive atmosphere that resulted in the agreement of political parties on a national unity government should also allow for the election of a president,” he said.
“All efforts should be exerted to hold the presidential election,” Salam noted, hoping for the next president to be "made in Lebanon, like the government."