BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Committee tasked with Cabinet statement reconvenes

Salam heads the ministerial committee at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: The ministerial committee tasked with drafting the new Cabinet's policy statement convened Thursday for its second session this week.

Newly appointed ministers from the country’s main political factions arrived at the Grand Serail to attend a session chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

Salam voiced optimism Wednesday evening that the committee would be able to swiftly draw up the policy statement, saying the draft would be brief given the short lifespan of his government.

Before stepping into the meeting, Finance Minister Ali Hasan, aide to Speaker Nabih Berri, said he expected the committee to finalize the draft in three sessions.

“We have not yet reached points of contention,” he said.

Hezbollah’s bloc expressed hope that the committee would formulate a brief statement as soon as possible that "reflects the government's priorities in politics, security, defense, the resistance and socio-economic conditions.

"The real criteria for the success of the Cabinet rests in its national duties: combating takfiri terrorism and providing the appropriate atmosphere to hold the presidential election on time,” the bloc said in a statement read by MP Hasan Fadlallah.

“[The elections] should see a new president who will be dynamic and will help to achieve national understanding, boost national unity, fight injustice and corruption, press for the approval of a just and fair election law and adopt a real national defense strategy."

Salam announced his 24-member national unity government Saturday after more than 10 months of political deadlock, bringing together the rival March 8 and March 14 coalitions along with centrists, or ministers loyal to Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, Salam and President Michel Sleiman.

The March 14 alliance insists that the Baabda Declaration, which calls for Lebanon to be distanced from regional conflicts - particularly the war in Syria, be included in the policy statement.

The March 8 coalition argues that the policy statement should include a clause stating that Lebanon has the right to liberate its land from Israeli occupation through the “Army, people and resistance.” This clause, which has been adopted by several previous Cabinets, would effectively legitimize Hezbollah’s arms.

 

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Summary

The ministerial committee tasked with drafting the new Cabinet's policy statement convened Thursday for its second session this week.

Salam voiced optimism Wednesday evening that the committee would be able to swiftly draw up the policy statement, saying the draft would be brief given the short lifespan of his government.

Salam announced his 24-member national unity government Saturday after more than 10 months of political deadlock, bringing together the rival March 8 and March 14 coalitions along with centrists, or ministers loyal to Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, Salam and President Michel Sleiman.


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