BEIRUT: Lebanon can no longer stand the disruption of Parliament and Cabinet, and urgent matters should be addressed by both bodies as soon as possible, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has said.
“The situation can no longer stand any Cabinet or legislative disruption, and all contacts and efforts are focused on guaranteeing quorum for the Cabinet session and opening an exceptional legislative round in the Parliament to approve a number of urgent draft laws,” Berri told Al-Joumhouria newspaper in comments published Monday.
He said he was referring to draft bills that “the country cannot bear the consequences of delaying..., especially that some of them are agreements between Lebanon and international monetary institutions.”
Christian MPs from all major parliamentary blocs have been boycotting Parliament’s legislative sessions for reasons related to the absence of a president.
The Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement have announced that any legislative session they might attend should have bills concerning the interests of Lebanon’s Christians as top items on the agenda.
Such bills include the law to naturalize Lebanese expatriates and a new electoral law that guarantees more accurate representation of Christians in Parliament.
Among the laws that Berri considered “urgent” for the Parliament to approve is the ranks and salaries scale, which has been the major demand of public sector and teachers union for more than three years.
Another crucial issue is a World Bank-funded project to build a water dam in Wadi Bisri in the district of Jezzine. The dam would allow the storage of 125 million cubic meters and provide electricity to around 1.8 million residents in Beirut and its suburbs.
Meanwhile, the FPM announced earlier this month that its ministers would prevent the Cabinet from approving any bill before appointing new commanders for Lebanon’s security agencies.
FPM leader Michel Aoun supports his son-in-law, commander of the Army’s elite force Brig. Gen. Shamel Roukoz, to succeed Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi.
Kahwagi’s term, which was already renewed once, is set to expire in September.
Berri said Prime Minister Tammam Salam is being patient in dealing with the disruption of the Cabinet. Salam has insisted on consensus as a requirement for any decision made in the national unity Cabinet since its formation
Berri said there were enough parties willing to attend Cabinet and Parliament sessions for a quorum to be achieved in both bodies, but underlined his insistence on the attendance of the major Christian parties as a requirement for legitimacy.
The speaker also ruled out that the recent escalation of media disputes between Future Movement and Hezbollah officials would harm the ongoing dialogue between them, the next session of which is scheduled for later Monday.
“The two parties are behaving in the dispute in their own ways, but the dialogue will go on,” he said.
Berri added that Monday’s meeting will include a discussion of the disruption matter, and that he had asked his political aide Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, who is attending the session, to raise the matter.