BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Cabinet made 13 key civil service appointments Friday in a four-hour session packed with 52 agenda items.
Retired Maj. Gen. Nizar Khalil was appointed head of the Higher Council for Customs and Shafiq Merhi’s term as general director of the department was renewed. Ahmad al-Halabi and Gabi Fares were both appointed members of the council.
The Finance Ministry’s Director of Disbursement Alia Abbas was chosen as general director of the Economy Ministry and Judge Maysam Noueri as general director of the Justice Ministry. Youssef Naouss was given the post of general director of the Labor Ministry.
Dalal Barakat was appointed a general inspector in the Central Inspection Department, while George Labaki was appointed head of the board of the National Management Institute and Jamal al-Munjid its general director.
Roni Lahoud was selected as head of the board and general director of the General Housing Institution and Nicholas Habr was appointed head of the Central Fund for the Displaced.
Ralph Ghali was appointed director of oil at the Energy Ministry.
The announcements were made by Information Minister Ramzi Joreige in a briefing with reporters following the session which convened under President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace.
Premier Tammam Salam and Sleiman held talks prior to the session.
Sleiman told ministers at the start of the session that he would file a challenge against some clauses in a contraversial rent law once it is published in the official gazette.
Meanwhile, there appeared to be little movement toward finding a consensus candidate for the presidency before the end of Sleiman’s six-year term on May 25.
Former President Amine Gemayel’s Kataeb Party released a statement regarding Thursday night’s meeting between Gemayel and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.
Gemayel’s name has been circulated as a possible candidate for the presidency, particularly after Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea announced his readiness to withdraw from the race if a consensus candidate was found.
The statement said the leaders discussed Gemayel’s recent visits to Maronite political leaders and his attempts to speed up the election of a new president.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai also met Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to discuss the latest developments in the presidential race.
For his part, Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat said the March 14 bloc would back a candidate from the alliance other than Geagea if he can secure more votes.
He called on the March 8 coalition to end its boycott of parliamentary sessions, intended to urge the election of a consensus candidate.
Geagea failed to win the required two-thirds of MP votes in a session late last month to elect the president.