Naharnet

Saniora: Urges Govt. to Assume its Duties, Avoid Endless Debates over its Methodology

Head of the Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora demanded on Saturday that the government kick off its duties through adhering to the constitution.

He said during the launch of a workshop in the northern city of Tripoli: “The government must go ahead with its responsibilities and avoid becoming embroiled in endless debates about its functions.”

The cabinet failed on Thursday to reach an agreement over the methodology it should adopt in conducting its affairs, raising fears of the emergence of paralysis in the government given the vacuum in the presidency.

“The government's primary goals should be paving the way for the election of a president,” continued Saniora.

“The vacuum in the presidency is unacceptable and we must end this flawed situation,” he stressed.

“Until a new president is elected, the government should concern itself with catering to the people's needs instead of wasting time in endless debates over its methodology,”noted the former premier.

In light of the ongoing vacuum, Saniora said, the parliament should remain “calm and productive”.

“The Mustaqbal bloc does not seek to obstruct parliament's work,” he remarked in reference to its lawmakers' boycott of a legislative session aimed at discussing a new wage scale draft-law.

Lebanon has so far held six presidential elections sessions, but lawmakers have failed to elect a new head of state due to the ongoing dispute between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances.

President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25, while the next elections session is scheduled for June 18.

The March 14 alliance has remained committed to the nomination of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, while the March 8 camp has yet to name its candidate.

Commenting on the new wage scale draft-law, Saniora said: “The bloc is willing to engage in serious dialogue over the hike.”

“It is not however prepared to adopt a law that will jeopardize Lebanon's economy and burden it with repercussions it cannot handle,” he warned.

The public sector employees and teachers are holding onto a 121 percent increase in their salaries. But a ministerial-parliamentary committee has proposed to reduce the total funding from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion).

It has also called for raising certain taxes, which are a source of controversy among parliamentary blocs.

The Syndicate Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has held several protests to pressure parliament to approve the wage scale draft-law without any amendments.

Several political and economic officials have warned that approving the draft-law will have a negative impact of Lebanon's economy.

The Mustaqbal Movement, along with a number of Christian lawmakers, are boycotting legislative sessions aimed at discussing a wage scale for the public sector to protest the failure to elect a president.

Addressing regional crises in Syria and Iraq, Saniora stressed the need to fortify Lebanon against external dangers, demanding that Hizbullah withdraw its fighters from Syria.

“The party must immediately withdraw from the neighboring country and avoid drowning further in regional conflicts,” he added.

“Protecting Lebanon is still possible, but it cannot be achieved without the unity of all of political powers that seek the people's interests,” he stated.

“What is possible to achieve today, may be impossible to achieve later,” he warned.

To that end, he called for the election of a new president, demanding that the March 8 alliance name its candidate.

“It should announce its candidate or agree on a consensual nominee who would have the ability to launch dialogue in Lebanon and unite the people,” Saniora explained.

“A consensual presidential candidate should have a sound national vision for the country,” said the Mustaqbal bloc chief.


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