BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged government officials during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to refrain from stating their own opinions while representing Lebanon’s dissociation policy, days after the foreign minister urged the Arab League to reinstate Syria as a member of the regional organization.
“The dangers surrounding us do not allow any [official] to state their personal or political point of view as this would constitute a gap and lead to confusion and allow some people to cast doubts over the Cabinet’s commitment to the self disassociation policy,” said Mikati.
A statement from Mikati's office said the prime minister's comments aimed at Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour who last week sparked the ire of the Lebanese opposition after he urged his counterparts at an Arab League meeting in Cairo to reinstate Syria as a member of the top Arab group.
“At the beginning of the session, I must address the controversy sparked by the intervention of Foreign Affairs Minister while he prepared to hand over the chairmanship of the Arab League Ministerial Council to Egypt,” Mikati said as he inaugurated the Cabinet session.
According to the statement, the ministers hailed Mikati's comments and emphasized the need to uphold the disassociation policy.
Mansour has defended his request. While voicing puzzlement over the reaction at home, he told a local radio station Saturday his comments were “his point of view and not a political decision.”
Later Saturday, President Michel Sleiman said Lebanon’s disassociation policy on developments in the region should be clearly expressed by officials at international forums.
“Stances taken at international forums by government officials and ministers, particularly the foreign minister, should reflect this [disassociation] policy without [causing] confusion,” Sleiman said following talks with Mansour at the Presidential Palace in Baabda.
Mikati told ministers during the meeting at the Grand Serail that the government decided its own policy and “does not adopt any other strategy than the one agreed on.”
He also reiterated commitment to the disassociation policy that the government took in the wake of the uprising in Lebanon’s neighbor. It aims to keep Lebanon distant from regional developments, particularly Syria.
The “Baabda Declaration,” an agreement between rival March 8 and March 14 leaders in 2012, calls for “keeping Lebanon away from the policy of regional and international conflicts and sparing it the negative repercussions of regional tensions and crises.”