Mashnouq Urges Aoun to become Consensual Candidate, Slams Lack of Responsibilityإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq criticized on Thursday the rivals over the lack of responsibility concerning the presidential elections, praising Lebanon's ability to withstand the turmoil in the region under the tenure of the “best” Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
“Our rivals are insisting to push forward their presidential candidate to reach Baabda Palace, according to the formula: either our candidate or no one,” Mashnouq said in an interview with As Safir newspaper.
The minister, who is affiliated to al-Mustaqbal Movement, said that his side isn't putting any veto on any candidate, wondering if Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun could become a consensual candidate.
“It is his mission to prove himself as a consensual figure,” Mashnouq pointed out, saying: “Aoun hasn't so far exerted the necessary efforts.”
The minister said that Aoun has set two paths for the presidential elections “either we elect him or whoever he agrees on.”
Lebanon has been without a head state since May when the term of President Michel Suleiman ended without the election of his successor.
Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the elections.
“We are creating our local crises that compel us to enter endless discussions,” Mashnouq continued, stressing that Lebanon could become the least sectarian country in the region with time.
The minister added that the “flames in the region cannot be ignored, but Salam is characterized with refusing to allow the country to become part of any conflict.”
Concerning the ongoing dialogue between al-Mustaqbal and Hizbullah in Ain al-Tineh under the auspices of Speaker Nabih Berri, Mashnouq described the seventh session as “positive.”
“The dialogue is focusing on two main issues: defusing tension between Sunnis and Shiites... and electing a new head of state.”
The dialogue between the two parties kicked off in December.
Asked about the presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Mashnouq said that “90 percent of the displaced Syrians entered the country legally.”
He pointed out that the new measures along the border helped in limiting the entry of Syrians into Lebanon by 50 percent compared to around 800,000 Syrians during one month.
Mashnouq considered that the humanitarian cases remain an exception.
For Lebanon, the flood of refugees escaping the civil war in their country, has placed a tremendous strain on the country's economy, resources, infrastructure and delicate sectarian balance.
There are around 1.5 million displaced Syrians in the country of about 4.5 million.
Lebanon began imposing tighter restrictions in October when the government announced that it will not accept any more Syrian refugees except for what it deemed to be "exceptional" cases.
Since then, the number of refugee registrations in Lebanon has considerably dropped.
Mashnouq told As Safir that the establishment of any refugee camp along the border with Syria is at the center of a heated debate.
“We must evacuate around 30,000 from (the northeastern border town of) Arsal and move them to controlled encampments inside the region of the Bekaa,” he added.