Lebanon News

Salam hints he may resign over garbage crisis

Prime Minister Tammam Salam exits the Parliament building, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam Thursday hinted he may resign in the coming days if the garbage crisis isn't quickly resolved to pressure political rivals locked in disputes to "assume their responsibilities."

Salam told student visitors from Saint Joseph University that he would only abandon his position in order to "press the political rivals to assume their responsibilities, and not to cover up for them," according to remarks posted on the state-run National News Agency.

"There is no need for a Cabinet that cannot convene," he added. The meeting took place at the Grand Serail.

He lashed out at bickering political rivals, saying that their "lack of awareness is taking hold."

"Waste management is still a stumbling block due to political differences," the premier said, adding that he "will take the necessary stance within days if the crisis wasn't radically resolved."

Lebanon has undergone a trash crisis since the closure of the Naameh landfill on July 17. Beirut and other areas have witnessed multiple, large-scale protests demanding a solution to the crisis, but so far no tangible results have been reached.

A plan proposed by Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb calls for dividing Beirut and Mount Lebanon's trash between landfills in Akkar, the Bekaa Valley and potentially Burj Hammoud, while municipalities prepare to take responsibility for their own waste over the coming 18 months.

The plan, which was approved by Cabinet on Sept. 9, has hit many hurdles as locals refuse to take in Beirut’s and Mount Lebanon’s waste.

Salam also criticized rivals who accused him of trying to take on the role of a president and neglecting his tasks amid the presidential vacuum.

"I have been neutral and I intend to remain so," he emphasized.

He called for a "consensual head of state from outside the political spectrum” to resolve the ongoing political crises.

Lawmakers have failed to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman in 30 consecutive sessions, whose term ended on May 25, 2014.

 

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