Jumblat Meets Berri: Government's Survival is Essential

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Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Tuesday held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh, amid fears of a possible collapse of Premier Najib Miqati’s government.

Jumblat told Al-Manar television that “the government’s survival is essential,” stressing that “no one has an interest in possible political vacuum in the country.”

He also told LBC television that “discussions (on the governmental situation) got underway, but nothing is settled yet.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Berri held talks with Miqati in Ain el-Tineh in a bid to resolve the standoff in cabinet over the funding of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

As Safir newspaper reported Tuesday that Berri, in his attempt to find consensus among the cabinet members, was tasked by the Hizbullah leadership, in a move coordinated with President Michel Suleiman, to contact Miqati to find an acceptable solution by all members.

“The cabinet at this crucial stage … should work and not resign,” he told As Safir.

Sources close to Jumblat have said the Druze chief’s stance on the government standoff was linked to the decision Miqati might take if the March 8 camp ministers rejected to fund the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The sources told As Safir daily in remarks published Tuesday that the PSP chief rejects the collapse of the government. “The country cannot bear” crises anymore, they said.

“We should avoid everything that creates instability,” the sources added.

They reiterated that Jumblat backs the funding of the STL. He along with President Michel Suleiman and Miqati support the payment of Lebanon’s 49 percent annual share of funds to the STL.

The sources also said that the possible stance of the National Struggle Front parliamentary bloc, which is led by Jumblat, was linked to the decision Miqati might take.

The premier warned last week that he would submit his resignation if the cabinet failed to fund the tribunal.

Sources close to Jumblat also told An Nahar newspaper that several ministers believe Miqati would resign because the Hizbullah-led March 8 forces would reject to fund the court during a crucial cabinet session on Wednesday.

Approval of the payment of Lebanon’s 49 percent share would be seen as a major loss to Hizbullah after the court indicted four of its members in the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri.

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