BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Lebanon's new Cabinet holds first meeting

President Michel Sleiman chairs a Cabinet session at Baabda Palace, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Cabinet held its first meeting Thursday since winning a vote of confidence in Parliament and approved several of the 72-item agenda including a plan to resolve the increasing Syria-linked violence in the northern city of Tripoli.

“Cabinet decided to task the military and security forces with implementing a plan to control security in Tripoli and the Bekaa,” Information Minister Ramzi Joreige said, reading the Cabinet’s statement after the session.

The minister said Tripoli’s security plan included confiscating weapons from arms’ warehouses in the city and implementing judicial warrants for wanted persons.

Joreige said the plan also includes development projects in both the north and east Lebanon.

Cabinet also agreed to renew an existing order to provide the telecoms data to security agencies.

Ministerial sources told The Daily Star earlier that the decision was reached despite the objections of the March 8 ministers.

The data includes the International Mobile Subscriber Identity, which holds key information about a cellphone, including its location, the time, and callers in a conversation.

At the opening of the session at Baabda Palace, President Michel Sleiman called for measures to counter attacks against the Lebanese Army in Tripoli.

"As long as the Army is a disengagement force in Tripoli, there will always be attacks against it," Sleiman said. “The situation is no longer acceptable and requires urgent solutions.”

The plan for Tripoli, which has seen at least 20 rounds of clashes since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, was drafted Wednesday by officials and is expected to be endorsed by the Cabinet.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam also said that “the security situation and a development plan should be the priority of the government.”

Salam also called for adopting “a general policy” over the Syrian refugees in the country.

Among the Cabinet’s resolutions was a decision to form a ministerial committee to deal with any refugees “in cases of emergencies.”

Another ministerial committee would also be formed to set a comprehensive national plan for the problem of waste in the country.

The government decided to announce a tender for a new company to handle the compulsory vehicle inspection and to renew the contract of the current company for a six-month term.

During the session, Sleiman also hailed the Arab League for expressing solidarity with Lebanon during the organization’s recent summit in Kuwait.

He also tasked Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil with following up on the League’s resolutions relating to Lebanon as well as the resolutions of the International Support Group for Lebanon.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour told reporters ahead of the session that the security plan would be the main item on the agenda.

He also said ministers had reached an initial deal to renew the terms of Central Bank vice governors.

“The security plan is the basis and, unless something new emerges, we have an agreement to renew the terms of Central Bank vice governors,” he said.

Sources close to Salam said that the issue of the Central Bank vice governors was postponed to the next Cabinet session, scheduled to take place Monday at 5:00 p.m.

The Cabinet won a vote of confidence in Parliament on March 20.

 

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Summary

Lebanon's Cabinet held its first meeting Thursday since winning a vote of confidence in Parliament and approved several of the 72-item agenda including a plan to resolve the increasing Syria-linked violence in the northern city of Tripoli.

Joreige said the plan also includes development projects in both the north and east Lebanon.

During the session, Sleiman also hailed the Arab League for expressing solidarity with Lebanon during the organization's recent summit in Kuwait.

He also tasked Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil with following up on the League's resolutions relating to Lebanon as well as the resolutions of the International Support Group for Lebanon.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour told reporters ahead of the session that the security plan would be the main item on the agenda.


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