Lebanon News

National Dialogue session postponed with no clear breakthrough on the horizon

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri heads a session of the national dialogue at the Parliament in Beirut, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Parliament Website, HO)

BEIRUT: The National Dialogue session in Downtown Beirut was postponed to next week after three hours of crunch talks ended with no major resolutions.

“The second round of talks will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 12:00 p.m.,” Adnan Daher, secretary-general of the Parliament told reporters gathered at the assembly, which is located in Nejmeh Square.

A source told The Daily Star that the Parliament’s media office informed reporters that Speaker Nabih Berri was set to hold a news conference at the Parliament's press room at the end of the session, but they were surprised by Daher's appearance instead, who refused to make any additional remarks.

The source presumed that it’s an attempt to prevent the press from talking to politicians as they left the assembly.

Politicians refused to speak to the press as they left the Parliament but their convoys were hit with eggs by protesters that had also hurled them while they were entering the vicinity of the parliament.

Media reports said that the discussion was tense at the end of the session.

According to media reports, Berri was compelled to postpone the session after Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun expressed his anger during the course of the talks.

Local channel MTV said that the gatherers failed to reach any progress during the session with the talks only tackling the presidential vacuum.

Kataeb MP Elie Marouni told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) that the session was mostly calm until a debate erupted between Aoun and Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb.

"The debate was swiftly resolved by Berri," Marouni added, saying that the stances during the session were the same as the ones announced in public.

The National Dialogue session kicked off at 12:00 p.m., minutes after Prime Minister Tammam Salam revealed that he called for an extraordinary Cabinet session to be held in the afternoon to discuss Lebanon's protracted garbage crisis.

Parliamentary bloc leaders arrived at Parliament amid tight security measures to prevent demonstrators, who were holding a sit-in near the entrances of Downtown Beirut that were blocked with barricades and barb wires, from coming face to face with the politicians.

“I called for a Cabinet session at 5:00 p.m. today (Wednesday) to tackle the garbage crisis and find an effective solution for it,” Salam told reporters as he was entering the assembly to take part in the first round of Lebanon’s all-party talks.

The prime minister expressed hope that the inclusive all-party talks would have a positive impact on the people and the future of the country.

Salam called on rival parties to take part in the Cabinet session and “participate in finding an effective solution to the waste crisis.”

The last Cabinet session was held on August 27 amid a boycott by Hezbollah and its main Christian ally the FPM.

The FPM decision to boycott was in light of a lack of consensus in the Cabinet over the decision-making mechanism. Hezbollah and its March 8 allies, excluding Berri's ministers, joined their FPM allies in staying away from the meeting.

Berri later asked Salam "not to be hasty in calling for new sessions."

Deputy Speaker Farid Makari told reporters as he arrived at the Parliament to remain optimistic, hoping to reach positive results from the talks.

Berri, who called for the dialogue session, was the first to arrive at the Parliament, two hours ahead of the session, which was set to kick off at 12:00 p.m.

Only Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea boycotted the session, deeming it "useless."

The National Dialogue session aims to end the 15-month presidential vacuum and revive the role of Parliament and the Cabinet.

You Stink and other civil groups began a sit-in to coincide with the dialogue session. A mass demonstration is expected to take place at 6:00 p.m.

The session was attended by: head of the Development and Liberation Parliamentary bloc, Speaker Nabih Berri, accompanied by Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, accompanied by Minister Rashid Derbas, former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, accompanied by MP Ahmad Karami, head of the Future Movement bloc Fouad Siniora, accompanied by MP Atef Majdalani, FPM leader Aoun and head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, accompanied by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari, accompanied by MP Robert Fadel, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, accompanied by MP Ghazi Aridi, Former deputy premier MP Michel Murr, Kataeb Party chief Sami Gemayel, accompanied by MP Eli Marouni, Hezbollah's Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc MP Mohammad Raad, accompanied by MP Ali Fayyad, Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh, accompanied by former Minister Youssef Saadeh, Tashnag leader MP Hagop Pakradounian, accompanied by Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, Telecommunications Minister Harb, accompanied by MP Jawad Boulos, Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan, accompanied by Hassan Hmadah, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaoun, accompanied by Elias Abu Hala, and The Syrian Social Nationalist Party MP Asaad Hardan, accompanied by former minister Ali Kanso.

 

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