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The Daily Star
MONDAY, 21 APR 2014
10:11 AM Beirut time
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Mikati calls for extraordinary government to tackle kidnappings
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BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Thursday for the formation of an extraordinary government for an extraordinary time, in order to cope with the spate of kidnappings in Lebanon that recently took place in retaliation for the abduction of a Lebanese man in Syria.

“The issue of counter-kidnapping, threats and braggadocio [via] the media are all things that are not acceptable," Mikati told reporters at Beiteddine Palace, the president’s summer residence.

“The situation is extraordinary and difficult and requires an extraordinary government,” he added, in reference to the spree of kidnappings of Syrian nationals in Lebanon Wednesday in retaliation for the abduction of Lebanese Hassan Meqdad in Damascus.

Nevertheless, Mikati said that he cannot leave a political vacuum in Lebanon.

“From now until this [extraordinary] government is established, we cannot leave the country in a vacuum,” Mikati said. “I will only be a tool for this extraordinary government."

Mikati stressed that his government was exerting every effort to win the release of Hassan Meqdad as well as the 11 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria last May by rebels.

Asked whether the government would resign, Mikati responded: “Talking about resignation is not important. The important thing is how we can safeguard Lebanon.”

“This is a battle for Lebanon’s survival,” he stressed, going on to urge the various Lebanese political leaders to close ranks to “protect the country."

Mikati also declared that the road to Beirut airport would remain open and urged tourists to visit Lebanon.

“I assure the Lebanese that the airport road will not be blocked as of today and that if it is blocked, security forces will reopen it, because it is a vital road,”

Addressing tourists, Mikati said “Everyone who wishes to visit Lebanon is most welcome. Please go ahead with your visit.”

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