BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam said over the weekend that extending President Michel Sleiamn’s term remained a possibility, adding that Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria can only be resolved at the National Dialogue table.
“From a political perspective, extending [Sleiman’s mandate] is possible, but it requires amending the Constitution, which would present a major crisis. This is up to the political parties,” Salam told Ash-Sharq Radio Station Saturday.
“But the direction today is to hold the presidential election,” he added, voicing hope that the election would be held on time to prevent a “vacuum” in the presidency.
Although Sleiman’s six-year term ends on May 25, none of the political parties have officially named a candidate for the post.
Speaker Nabih Berri has said he would begin consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs this week to secure a quorum for a Parliamentary session to elect a new president.
Salam urged political parties to attend the legislative sessions to elect a new president.
“With a new president, a new government and holding the [parliamentary] elections on time, Lebanon would have strengthened its democracy. Democracy in Lebanon is our only weapon,” he said.
He said the formation of the government and the approval of the ministerial statement calmed the tense atmosphere in the country.
“But let’s be frank: Holding the presidential election and fulfilling this grand constitutional obligation will better the situation ... when we hold the election, then we can say that we have opened a new page for Lebanon,” Salam added.
The PM, whose government was granted Parliament’s vote of confidence earlier this week, also spoke about Hezbollah’s role in Syria, saying the resistance group as well as the rest of the country’s parties should reevaluate their policies.
“Hezbollah has a big role to play and needs to take some stances. We want Hezbollah to reevaluate some of the decisions that have been taken and executed,” he said.
“The national defense strategy could pave the way to resolve any wrongdoing or measures that were not beneficial to Lebanese or Lebanon,” Salam added, referring to Hezbollah’s participation in the war next door.
“All political forces should reevaluate reality and their decisions, primarily Hezbollah, because it is the most prominent and strongest among all the domestic parties. Any move or decision affects all of us, not only Hezbollah and its supporters, but all Lebanese,” he said.
Asked when Hezbollah would end its fighting in Syria, Salam said such an issue can only be resolved through the National Dialogue Committee.
“The president’s call to resume the National Dialogue on March 31 to continue discussion on the national defense strategy is the appropriate and practical opening to address the many concerns [of Hezbollah’s role in Syria],” he said.
“The natural place is the Dialogue Committee, where all viewpoints are made clear and resolutions are agreed on,” he added.