BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati called on the Lebanese Saturday to place Lebanon’s survival ahead of their personal interests; separately, he said that the long-awaited salary scale for teachers will be approved by the Cabinet next week.
“I want to say this to the Lebanese ... it is not about individuals ... what is important is the survival of the country,” Mikai told reporters following his meeting with Patriarch Beshara Rai in Diman, north Lebanon.
“We should abandon the idea of personalizing [matters] and [prioritizing] personal interests ... We are living through hardship right now and should unite,” he added.
Mikati arrived in Diman earlier Saturday along with eight of his Cabinet ministers. They met with Rai and discussed domestic developments and the situation in north Lebanon following weeklong clashes in Tripoli.
The clashes, which raised fears that the crisis in Syria had spilled over into Lebanon, were the third of their kind in Lebanon's second largest city this year. The fighting left at least 17 dead and over 120 wounded, including 11 soldiers and a foreign journalist.
Mikati’s visit is in line with a longstanding tradition: an annual tete-a-tete between the patriarch and the prime minister at the former’s residence. However, this year, several ministers accompanied Mikati on his visit to Rai.
During his brief chat with reporters following his meeting with the patriarch, Mikati also said that the draft law for the new salary scale for the public sector, including teachers, will be approved by the Cabinet during its Sept. 5 session.
For months, civil servants and teachers have been holding demonstrations and general strikes to demand the actualization of the raise approved by the Cabinet earlier this year.
Mikati also reiterated his sold ties with Speaker Nabih Berri as well as head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun.
“We are in the midst of a political dispute, but these disputes are over the country's interests and are aimed at correcting mistakes ... there is no reason for the government to resign,” the prime minister said.
He added that his visit was to thank the patriarch for his consistent support of the government.
Following a meeting between Mikati and Rai at 12 p.m., they will be joined for a second meeting by Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn, Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun, Industry Minister Vreij Sabounjian, Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi, Labor Minister Slaim Jreissati, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, Information Minister Walid Daouk and State Minister Ahmad Karami.