Naharnet

Consensus over Salam Continues on Second Day of Parliamentary Consultations

The second day of the binding parliamentary consultation kicked off on Saturday morning with the blocs continuing their support for MP Tammam Salam to head a new government.

LBCI television reported that the MP garnered a total of 124 votes by lawmakers to assume the position of prime minister.

The consultations with President Michel Suleiman at the Baabda Palace began with the Zahleh bloc, which nominated the MP for the premiership “due to his national leanings during this critical phase in Lebanon.”

The Lebanese Forces bloc then followed by voicing its backing for Salam.

MP George Adwan said after meeting Suleiman: “The bloc believes that the MP is competent enough to form a new cabinet during his phase.”

“The new government would be tasked with reaching an agreement over a new parliamentary electoral law and staging the elections,” he remarked.

The Phalange bloc also nominated Salam, with MP Elie Marouni saying that “he is a suitable man for the current phase in Lebanon.”

He hoped that the new government would restore stability and peace in Lebanon and succeed in overseeing “honest elections that are held as scheduled.”

The Unity of the Mountain bloc of Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan then met with Suleiman at the Baabda Palace.

It nominated Salam in a hope that he will “unite the Lebanese to protect the country from regional and international storms.”

Arslan revealed that he had hoped to Suleiman that the premier-designate would include all political powers in a national cabinet.

The bloc was followed by MP Emile Rahmeh of Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh's United Free Lebanon bloc, who voiced his support for Salam to head the new government.

“Franjieh had requested that I head to the Baabda Palace to nominate him because he knows of the strength of my friendship with Salam,” he explained to reporters.

The Marada Movement leader had announced on Friday his boycott of the parliamentary consultations over his objection to Salam's nomination, saying that he “is affiliated with a political group”.

"I have decided to boycott the parliamentary consultations and allow the members of the Free United Lebanon bloc to choose the nominee they want,” he said in a released statement.

“I respect and appreciate Salam and his prestigious family with whom we have an old relationship, but announcing his nomination from the (Mustaqbal Movement head MP Saad Hariri's) Center House on Thursday has clearly confirmed his affiliation with a political group,” he added.

Rahmeh added from the Baabda Palace: “The relationship between Franjieh and Salam is among the strongest in the country.”

“Franjieh is not boycotting the presidential palace or Salam,” he stressed.

Consensus over Salam continued at the parliamentary consultations with the Free Decision bloc, of MPs Michel Pharaon and Serge Torsarkissian, and the Armenian Consensus and Armenian blocs voicing their support for his nomination.

Solidarity bloc MP Ahmed Karami also voiced his support for Salam's nomination, noting that Premier Najib Miqati's resignation “was aimed at allowing the formation of a government capable of tackling the situation in Lebanon.”

The Baath, Syrian Socialist National Party, and Jamaa al-Islamiya blocs also advocated his nomination.

MP Imad al-Hout of the Jamaa Islamiya said after meeting Suleiman: “We nominated Salam for premiership and hope that the ministers of the new government will not run in the elections.”

For his part, SSNP MP Assem Qanso hoped that Salam would form a national stability government that would achieve stability in Lebanon.

Independent MPs soon followed for separate talks with Suleiman, all of whom nominated Salam.

They included MP Marwan Hamadeh, Antoine Saad, Fouad al-Saad, Dory Shamoun, Robert Ghanem, Butros Harb, Nicolas Fattoush, Mohammed al-Safadi, and Robert Fadel.

Hamadeh said: “I am glad that at the time of the Arab Spring, the transition of power in Lebanon is taking place in a normal fashion.”

“The consultations are a model of democracy that should be followed by the Arab world,” he remarked to reporters.

“We wish Salam success and hope, that even if a consensus government is not formed, that he would succeed in staging the elections,” he added.


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