The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Berri, Jumblatt suspend initiative
March 14 initiative targets Aoun
An 11th attempt to elect a new president was torpedoed Tuesday and was replaced by a “rescue” initiative announced by the March 14 coalition that did not carry anything new.
For his part, Speaker Nabih Berri said he has halted a joint initiative launched with MP Walid Jumblatt to break the presidential election impasse.
“Let’s see what they are going to do,” Berri was quoted as telling visitors. “All hell broke loose when Jumblatt said he was in contact with me and with Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and they made statements.”
He accused politicians of making statements that created a negative atmosphere by saying that Muslims were deciding on the Christian president.
Meanwhile, an initiative announced by March 14 to resolve the presidential election crisis appeared primarily aimed at embarrassing the head of the Change and Reform bloc Michel Aoun, rather than a proposal aimed to salvage Lebanon from the power vacuum.
Salam: Financial situation in jeopardy
Prime Minister Tammam Salam has expressed concerns that the financial situation is at stake.
“The financial situation is not less important and serious than the security situation in light of the critical circumstances facing the country,” Salam told An-Nahar.
Salam said he will convene a Cabinet meeting to continue discussions on the financial situation in light of the ministers’ observations on Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil’s report.
Salam pointed out that he had already received the 2015 budget draft law with the 2014 budget draft law still awaiting a decision regarding the salary raise.
Captive soldiers’ case, swap deal impossible
As the Cabinet dedicated Tuesday’s session to the critical financial situation, the issue of the soldiers held captive by Islamist militants remained in the spotlight as ISIS warned in a new statement to kill another hostage amid ambiguity surrounding the presumed negotiations.
The Cabinet will discuss the hostage crisis during a meeting to be held Thursday.
As-Safir, however, has learned that MPs from the March 8 coalition, the Free Patriotic Movement and MP Walid Jumblatt will stress during the Cabinet session that a deal to swap the captive soldiers for Roumieh-held Islamist prisoners is out of the question.
Khalil’s report terrifies Cabinet
Tuesday’s Cabinet session focused on a full explanation made by Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil of his report on the financial situation, raising alarm and concerns among ministers, especially after he warned of the dangers of reaching a financial collapse.
Khalil pointed out that the 2014 public debt has exceeded $68 billion while public debt servicing reached $9 billion, a higher percentage from previous years.