BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Thursday he hoped the presidential void would not last long and urged various political groups to shoulder responsibility to elect a new head of state as soon as possible.
Salam spoke at the beginning of a Cabinet session he chaired at the Grand Serail that finalized several appointments, hours after Parliament failed to hold a session to elect a president for lack of the required two-thirds quorum. The premier warned that an extended void in the presidency would have detrimental effects on the country.
The Cabinet convened with 100 items on its agenda. Ministers will meet again Friday at the Baabda presidential palace. Friday’s session will be the last one to be chaired by President Michel Sleiman, whose mandate expires Sunday.
The departing president is expected to hold a farewell dinner banquet with the ministers and their spouses afterward at the Baabda palace.
Speaking to reporters during a break, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi said there was a high probability that Friday’s Cabinet session would examine the issue of Syrian refugees and the option of establishing refugee camps along the border with Syria. Cabinet will also discuss a full report drafted by the ministerial committee tasked with looking into the Syrian refugees file, according to Azzi.
The Cabinet approved a fresh batch of administrative appointments. It appointed Susan al-Khoury Youhanna as the director-general of the Directorate of Personal Status. Omar Hamzeh was appointed director-general of Municipalities, and Hoda Salloum will head the Traffic and Vehicles Management authority.
The Cabinet also appointed a new executive council for the Rafik Hariri University Beirut Hospital, which in recent years has been mired in corruption and mismanagement.
Ministers also allotted a sum of $18 million for the construction of the Tannourine road in the Batroun area as well as $6 million for the Ihmij-Lalou road in the mountainous region of Jbeil.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 23, 2014, on page 3.