BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam Thursday said the Cabinet needed more time to finalize discussion on a mechanism to govern its work amid a presidential vacuum, Information Minister Ramzi Joreige said.
"The Cabinet could have discussed the agenda but Prime Minister Salam was keen on preserving consensus and strengthening the government,” Joreige told reporters after the end of the session at the Grand Serail.
“Therefore, he will resume consultations [with rival groups] regarding the rules that should be adopted to govern the work of the Cabinet in order to reach a consensus on the matter,” he said.
Asked whether the Cabinet would adopt an approach rather than a mechanism to govern its work amid a presidential void, Joreig said: “The work of the Cabinet as a body is subject to rules and not a mechanism ... These rules provided for in the Constitution require that decisions [be taken] by consensus.”
He said that in the case of problematic issues, the Cabinet could also resort to a consensus approach, rather than a vote, citing the Constitution.
During the session, the Cabinet discussed the security situation in Lebanon as well as the upcoming official school exams and the deal reached between the education minister and the Union Coordination Committee, in addition to the 2014 state budget blueprint “which is very important,” Joreige added.
Joreige said developments in the region were the focus of talks during the Cabinet session in light of possible repercussions on the country.
Shortly before the Cabinet ended around 2:20 p.m., Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi said the Cabinet would likely postpone discussions on a proposal by Salam to end the row over government powers.
“The Cabinet tends to postpone mulling ways of how Cabinet should deal with the question over the government’s exercise of powers,” Azzi told reporters after leaving the session.
Lebanon's Cabinet met to discuss a proposal by Salam to end the row over Cabinet powers in the wake of a presidential vacuum as well as the impact of the Iraq crisis on Lebanon. Salam was proposing that decrees would require a two-thirds majority of ministers to pass, but all Cabinet members would be required to sign approved decrees, even ones they did not support.
Salam presided over the meeting, which began at 10:30 a.m. at the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut, with 25 ordinary items on the agenda.
Sources at the Grand Serail told The Daily Star that the Cabinet also discussed the impact of the Iraqi crisis on Lebanon.
Meanwhile, contract professors at the state-run Lebanese University held a sit-in outside the Grand Serail to coincide with the Cabinet meeting.
The protesters threatened to continue boycotting the exams as well as test correction until their demands, which include promoting contract lecturers and making them full-time workers, are met.
The work of the Cabinet has been disrupted since the end of former President Michel Sleiman's term on May 25, with Parliament botching several attempts to elect a successor. Under a presidential void, the Constitution assigns the powers of the presidency to the Cabinet, but ministers have failed to agree on a mechanism to govern under the circumstances.