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Siniora says priority of new govt to hold elections

Lebanese former prime minister Fouad Siniora (L) speaks during a meeting for pro-Western March 14 political coalition as former minister Tammam Salam looks on, in Beirut April 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohamed Azakir)

SIDON, Lebanon: The priority of the next government should be to hold the parliamentary elections and work to lessen tensions in the country with a harmonious team of ministers, the head of the Future bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, said Sunday.

Separately, Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel asked the newly appointed Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to approve a new electoral law and protect Lebanon from what he described as “a security collapse.”

Speaking to reporters at his office in Sidon, Siniora said an opportunity emerged for Lebanon after Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned last month, and the appointment was made of Salam as a prime minister-designate.

“I think we are in front of an opportunity here. I praise Speaker Nabih Berri’s remarks when he said that the former majority is opening a new page with the former opposition, and that everyone should work together to salvage Lebanon,” Siniora said.

The MP was referring to Berri’s speech earlier this week when he announced his endorsement of Beirut lawmaker Tammam Salam who was tasked with forming a new government Saturday.

“It is an opportunity to lessen the levels of tensions in Lebanon. [This] requires that we have a harmonious team [of ministers] in the government, and not people who will only transfer political disputes to the Cabinet’s work. [This] was the case with the government I formed in 2008, and the one formed by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri,” he added.

The Sidon MP also noted that his party opposed a one-party government.

“We don’t want a government formed by March 14 or one controlled by March 8.”

“Consider it a government for elections, and its concern should be to achieve this goal and consequently lessen the tensions,” he said.

“Then, when we're done with this phase and have held the elections, we could ... depending on the results, have a national unity government,” Siniora added.

Siniora also hoped that Salam would contribute to “accelerating the process of reaching a new electoral law.”

Gemayel, speaking to thousands of Kataeb members in Beirut, praised Salam for his national stances and said his Cabinet should adopt a new law for the upcoming elections.

“We ask of Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to first adopt a new elections law that guarantees sound representation for all Lebanese and receives national consensus,” Gemayel said during his speech at the “Executive Form 2013” for the Kataeb Party.

He added that the government should “protect Lebanon from a security collapse domestically and on the border,” as well as rebuild the trust of investors in the country.

Gemayel, whose party endorsed Salam during binding consultations with the president Saturday, recounted Salam’s boycott of parliamentary elections in 1992 in solidarity with Christian politicians.

“We remember that in 1992, at a time when Lebanon was under Syrian occupation and while Amin Gemayel as well as Michel Aoun were in exile, one man, Tammam Salam, supported the Christian boycott of the elections,” he said.

“Just like he stood with us in 1992, we stand by him in 2013,” Gemayal pledged.

 

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