Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stability is top priority: Samir Geagea on Cabinet crisis

BEIRUT: A solution to the ongoing crisis in the Cabinet should strike a balance between the need for drastic political decisions and the prioritization of security and stability, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Tuesday.

Talking to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who clashed with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil during the last Cabinet session, Samir Geagea said:

"Prime Minister Salam is very patient, and I hope he will stay this way. He is completing his calls to reach calm and normal Cabinet sessions."

"We support anything that enhances stability from one side, and achieving whatever we can of steps through legal and constitutional ways," he added. "We suggested going to the Parliament and voting on a new electoral law and the naturalization bill..., and the election of a president remains at the top of priorities."

The Cabinet is expected to meet on July 23, two weeks after its last session witnessed a shouting match between Salam and Bassil over the body's decision-making system in the absence of a president.

The session ended with a deal in which Salam promised not to pass any bills before the Cabinet agrees on the process. In return, the Free Patriotic Movement affiliated ministers agreed to pass a decree moving funds to hospitals.

The dispute had escalated when the Cabinet passed a decree a week earlier allotting $21 million to help export agricultural and industrial products by sea, while ignoring the FPM ministers' demand to discuss the appointment of senior military and security officers.

Thursday's session was accompanied by protests outside the Grand Serail, where FPM supporters clashed with Army troops. The fighting, in which batons and wooden sticks were used, left 17 protesters and seven Army soldiers wounded.