BEIRUT: The first Cabinet session in over two weeks ended Thursday, with Prime Minister Tammam Salam declaring that a consensus formula would replace the body's current decision-making mechanism.
“Given the exceptional circumstances resulting from the 9-month long presidential vacuum, the consensus formula is given a priority in the constitution,” Salam said at the start of the session, according to Information Minister Ramzi Joreige.
Salam stressed that a consensus-based decision making system remains as the “best option” as long as it doesn't lead to disruption in Cabinet, Joreige added.
The information minister did not reveal any amendments to the current mechanism, which requires unanimous support from all 24 ministers on Cabinet decisions, but said that Salam would no longer “tolerate” disruptions resulting from a lack of quorum.
The prime minister also expressed hopes that Cabinet’s one year anniversary would serve as an occasion for the government to reevaluate its work in light of the presidential void, and reiterated the urgent need to elect a presdient, Joreige said.
Cabinet then proceeded to study delayed agenda items that had been postponed due to the two-week pause in Cabinet’s work.
The three-hour long session ended with ministers agreeing on five regular agenda items.
According to ministerial sources, the consensus formula, which was agreed upon during Salam’s consultations with all blocs represented in the Cabinet, calls for consensus to be the basis of the government’s work. If any minister objects to a Cabinet decision relating to a non-exceptional matter and on which the majority of political blocs agree, it will not be postponed but will be approved, the sources said.
They added that ministers who oppose any decision can register their reservations, something that was not applied in previous sessions before Salam suspended Cabinet sessions last month.
In addition, the deal calls for all items on the agenda to obtain prior consent from all major political blocs so that they can be approved with the required speed, the sources said.
The agreement also calls on ministers to avoid using Cabinet sessions as a platform for political duels, as was often the case in the past.
With regard to Cabinet decrees that need the president’s signature after they have been signed by the prime minister, the relevant minister and the finance minister, they would be presented to the ministers to sign them, the sources said. If one or more ministers refused to sign, the Constitution would be applied in this case, which means that the decrees would become effective after 15 days, the sources added.