Lebanon News

Cabinet agenda to focus on death penalty abolition, diaspora vote

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, center, heads a Cabinet session at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Lebanon, Wednesday, March 28, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Foreign Ministry’s proposal to allow the Lebanese diaspora to vote in next year’s parliamentary elections will dominate discussions of the Cabinet when it meets Wednesday morning, ministerial sources said Sunday.

A draft law to abolish the death penalty and replace it with hard labor or life in prison is also set to be discussed. Some 62 items are on the agenda of the Cabinet session to be chaired by President Michel Sleiman at the Baabda Palace.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati is scheduled to leave after the Cabinet meeting for Brussels on a two-day official visit for talks with Belgian and European Union officials.

Two important items were added to the Cabinet’s agenda: A draft law designed to permit the installation of tinted windows in private vehicles in exchange for fees; and the Health Ministry’s request to fully rehabilitate the Rafik Hariri Governmental University Hospital, a ministerial source said. The Council for Development and Reconstruction, a state-run agency, which oversees the implementation of government projects, has demanded the allocation of $8 million for this purpose.

The Cabinet will discuss: a proposal aimed at amending the law relating to salary and wage increases in the public sector; the appointment of a director general of the tenders’ department at the Central Inspection Authority; the Information Ministry’s request to conduct a contest to contract news broadcasters; and the Foreign Ministry’s request to extend the mandate of the Lebanese ambassador in Caracas, the source said.

The Cabinet will also discuss a draft law aimed at exempting nonresident foreign companies, which are carrying out projects in Lebanon financed from abroad, of all taxes.

Other items on the Cabinet’s agenda include the Tourism Ministry’s request to sign a consensual agreement with CNN for promotion; and marketing in Lebanon and the Social Affairs Ministry’s request to make up for the holidays of agencies that care for the handicapped in 2012. They will also discuss how to pay Lebanon’s share of the financial package that will be offered to former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

The Cabinet will mull over a draft law aimed at signing an agreement between Lebanon and Armenia on mutual recognition of equivalent diplomas. They will discuss requests from the CDR to approve gifts from the European Community to finance a project to modernize the judicial system, the source said.

He added that the Cabinet will also discuss a proposal by the Energy Ministry for common cooperation between Lebanon and Syria on the issue of oil exploration.

Other items on the Cabinet’s agenda are a request from the Higher Relief Committee to accept a gift of medicine and medical equipment offered by the Italian government; a request from Dar al-Fatwa (the seat of the Sunni mufti) to accept a gift of medicine from Ibn Sina Pharmacy in Dubai; and a request from the Culture Ministry to amend a Cabinet decision on accepting a gift from the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon to repair the Jbeil Castle’s main tower.

The Cabinet will discuss a draft law aimed at granting the American University of Beirut a license to own a sample real estate in Ain Mreisseh area in Beirut for educational purposes. It will also study requests by some ministries to attend meetings and conferences abroad, including the Foreign Ministry’s request to participate in a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Egypt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 23, 2012, on page 3.




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