BEIRUT: The ministerial committee tasked with drafting the new Cabinet’s policy statement failed to break a deadlock over the resistance clause during its final session Tuesday, with time running out ahead of the March 17 deadline.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam decided to refer the committee's discussion to the Cabinet.
"[Salam] announced that the tenth session for the ministerial committee did not reach an agreement on a final draft," the PM's office said.
"After briefing President Michel Sleiman on the matter, [Salam] called for a Cabinet meeting Thursday March 13 to review what the committee had discussed and make the appropriate decision," it added.
The ministerial committee has until March 17 to finalize the draft policy statement or the president would be obligated under the law to begin a new round of parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister.
“Discussions were objective and calm. Every party expressed their viewpoint but we are still [stuck] on the primary issue,” Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, who represents the Kataeb Party, told reporters following the committee meeting at the Grand Serail.
“As a March 14 group, we think that the resistance, whether popular or institutionalized, should be under the jurisdiction of the state regardless of the presence of a defense strategy, whereas another group, particularly Hezbollah, insists that the resistance should be free in its movement and actions,” he added.
“In light of the existing differences, Prime Minister Salam decided to present what the committee has so far to the Cabinet in consultation with the president,” the minister said.
Azzi also said that the Cabinet would decide whether to resume the committee meeting, which has so far held 10 sessions.
March 14 coalition ministers demand that the resistance should be under state authority, arguing that other formulas would legitimize Hezbollah’s arms.
Hezbollah and its allies in the March 8 group reject such a proposal.
Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil told Al-Manar Television that the joint proposal drafted by MP Walid Jumblatt and Speaker Nabih Berri to resolve the dispute over the resistance clause was not presented during the committee meeting.
“The atmosphere was not amenable to discussing the proposal,” Khalil said.