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Siniora says Mansour’s behavior unacceptable

  • Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour is seen in this March 7, 2013 picture during a press conference at the Rafik Hariri International Airport. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: MP Fouad Siniora slammed Friday Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour over his recent comments at an Arab League meeting on the Syria crisis, saying his behavior was unacceptable, and a Lebanese Forces lawmaker called for Mansour’s dismissal.

“It is unacceptable for a foreign minister to express his personal viewpoints at any Arab or international forum,” Siniora, the head of the Future parliamentary bloc, said.

Mansour came under fire at home Wednesday after he called on Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo to allow the Syrian government to retake its seat at the Arab League.

Siniora also warned Mansour’s behavior put “at stake respect for the Lebanese Constitution and the powers of the Cabinet.”

“The prime minister is the one entitled to set the policies of the Cabinet and as the foreign minister represents the Cabinet, the [foreign] minister must completely abide by its policies or else he would be violating the Constitution and overstepping the powers of the Cabinet,” the Sidon lawmaker said.

Upon his return from the Egyptian capital, Mansour defended his comments in Egypt, stressing that they did not violate the country’s self-avowed disassociation policy.

President Michel Sleiman, speaking to a delegation from the Journalists Union Thursday, said Mansour “had abided by the government’s disassociation policy on the issue of representing the Syrian opposition in the Arab League.”

Lebanese Forces MP Elie Keyrouz also took aim at Mansour Friday, saying he should be brought to account and dismissed.

“Mansour should be held accountable for his stance, as per Articles 70 and 71 of the Constitution, particularly in terms of breaching his obligations,” said Keyrouz.

Article 70 and 71 of the Constitution stipulate that lawmakers have the right to call for impeaching the prime minister and ministers who “neglect their duties” and have them tried by the Supreme Council.

He also urged that the minister be removed from office.

“I call upon the president and prime minister to take the right action against the minister in accordance with Article 65 of the Constitution, paragraph 5, which stipulates dismissing the concerned minister from office in order to avoid prolonged and continuous harm to the interests of the Lebanese people,” he said.

According to Article 65 of the Constitution, a two-thirds vote by the Cabinet can lead to the dismissal of a minister.

Although drawing the ire of the opposition, Mansour has been defended by his allies in the March 8 alliance.

Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad described Mansour’s statements at the Arab League as “positive” and reflecting “keenness toward all countries in the Arab region and toward their peoples who are surely affected by the continuing, destructive hemorrhaging that weakens Syria and Arab countries equally.”

Upon his return from Cairo, Mansour said he had merely urged Arab states to “embrace Syria once again to discuss the possibility of reaching a political solution in the war-torn country.”

 
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