BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Tuesday that extending the mandate of President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year-term ends later this week, is justified.
“There are a lot of national reasons to extend the term of President Michel Sleiman, mainly the national standards he set for any successor,” Machnouk said from Abu Dhabi, where he earlier announced a tour of several Gulf states aimed at encouraging tourism and garnering support for Lebanon’s security services.
Lebanon has less than a week to achieve a breakthrough in the presidential impasse and elect a new head of state. Sleiman has repeatedly said he is against the extension of his term.
Machnouk said that the unrest Lebanon had been through should not prevent it from restoring its pioneering role in the region and ensuring growth in the country, citing the advancements achieved by the United Arab Emirates as a model for that.
“Yes, Lebanon is a worn out country, but in Lebanon too, and I am saying this from Abu Dhabi, we have the platform of the moderate mind,” he said.
He said there were a lot of freedom fighters in Lebanon, both inside the government and outside, “peacefully struggling for their moderation, independence and sovereignty.”
The minister said that “moderation is the only safety valve to protect coexistence between various sects in the country.”
During his trip, Machnouk met his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed al-Nahyan.