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Salam set to resign if policy statement stalemate persists

Prime Minister Tammam Salam attends the Lebanon Economic Forum in Beirut, Saturday, March 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam is set to resign Friday if Cabinet fails to achieve a breakthrough on the policy statement during an open session later in the afternoon, sources close to the premier said.

If no agreement is reached during Cabinet’s session scheduled for 6:00 p.m., Salam is expected to announce his resignation, the sources said.

Cabinet held a six-hour session Thursday to discuss the controversial resistance clause but failed again to reach a consensus.

Salam has voiced his desire to resign from the Cabinet, which was formed on February 15 after ten months of political bickering, but President Michel Sleiman and the Cabinet’s ministers asked him to be patient, the sources said.

The prime minister is reportedly giving political foes one last chance to reach an agreement during today's session.

The new 24-minister Cabinet needs to agree on a ministerial policy statement before the government can receive a vote of confidence in Parliament.

However, the two main factions disagree on how to incorporate the resistance into the ministerial statement.

The Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance insists that the policy statement stipulate that Lebanon and the Lebanese have the right to resist Israeli occupation and defend the country against any Israeli aggression, effectively legitimizing Hezbollah’s arsenal.

The March 14 coalition argues that resistance against Israel should take place under the authority of the state and that Lebanon, rather than the Lebanese, reserves the right to resistance.

 

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