Naharnet

Berri Prioritizes Security but Rejects Paralysis of Cabinet, Parliament

Speaker Nabih Berri has reiterated the need to provide military assistance to Lebanon to confront terrorists and stressed the importance of protecting the role of the legislative and executive branches.

“Every time I meet Arab or Western ambassadors … I tell them we need assistance, and financial and military support,” Berri said in remarks published in local dailies on Friday.

“We don't have a choice but to back the army and the security agencies,” he told officials who visited him on Thursday.

“I will say it out loud that terrorists would not be able to carry out any attack if these institutions are strong,” the visitors quoted him as saying.

Berri described Lebanon as a “graveyard for extremists” and blamed the country's problems on politicians like him and not the Lebanese people.

“Despite all what's happening, Lebanon is better off than the region's countries,” he said, adding “that's why we should focus on security.”

Berri reiterated that he was keen to hold the presidential elections although there was no sign that the parliamentary session he set for July 2 would be successful.

Rival MPs have so far failed in several rounds of electoral sessions to choose a successor to President Michel Suleiman whose six-year term expired on May 25.

Berri also discussed with his visitors about the executive powers granted to the government in the absence of a president.

He lauded the performance of Prime Minister Tammam Salam and backed an agreement reached among cabinet members for all government decisions to be based on consensus.

Salam said Thursday that the cabinet will put aside any issue that does not win consensus.

Berri stressed in his remarks that parliament and the cabinet should be able to function without paralysis.

“If a person's leg is broken, does it make sense to break the other leg?” he asked.

“We should treat the broken leg instead,” he said.

“The activation of the government's work should be accompanied by the parliament's ability to carry out its legislative and monitoring role,” the speaker added.

Berri has repeatedly expressed dismay at the boycott of parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president and discussing the controversial wage-hike draft-law.

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