BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk warned against obstructing Cabinet’s work, and launched vehement criticism against attempts to target the prime minister’s powers.
“No one should believe that obstructing Cabinet or Parliament will result in the election of a new president, the obstruction simply disrupts the presidency as well,” Machnouk said, during an honorary dinner over the weekend.
“Prime Minister Tammam Salam did not fall short, not even once, in his duties, and we will not allow attempts to target the powers of the prime minister,” he said.
Cabinet failed for the third time earlier this week to agree on a mechanism to exercise its full executive powers, including the president’s prerogatives, amid the vacuum in the country’s top Christian post. Parliament sessions are already in a stalemate on the pretext of the presidential void.
The ministers remain at odds over whether Cabinet decrees need the signatures of all 24 members, or only two-thirds or half of them.
Ministers from Aoun’s bloc, backed by Hezbollah’s ministers, demand that the Cabinet decrees be signed by all the ministers, while ministers from the March 14 coalition and the Future Movement insist that the decisions should be passed by a two-thirds vote. Salam prefers consensus on Cabinet decisions.
Machnouk said that his March 14 group has decided to deal calmly with the issue of Cabinet authorities, away from political bickering.
“We do not need to shout and scream as long as we have the pen [for signing government decisions], we decided to deal with the issue calmly, and those who need our signatures should reach a consensus with us,” he said.
“If they do not need our signatures, this means they don’t want to get the country’s affairs addressed, the issue is not our responsibility alone,” he said.
The minister also said that boycotting Parliament or Cabinet are futile actions because they “would not pressure foreign forces to break a deal on the presidency.”
“We are not basic [decision makers] in the presidential election, it is one big international and regional game,” Machnouk said.
For his part, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi called for facilitating the work of both Parliament and Cabinet amid presidential void as he called for seeking the “serious” election of a new head of state.
Rifi said that there is a positive will among ministers to reach a mechanism over the Cabinet authorities in light of void and hoped for endorsing such mechanism during Cabinet’s next session “to be able to achieve the urgent affairs of citizens.”