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Williams to Aoun, Hizbullah: Challenges Can’t be Met Without Active Cabinet

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said Wednesday that “challenges cannot be met without an active government particularly at a time of dramatic and rapid changes in the Arab region.”

After holding talks with FPM leader Michel Aoun in Rabiyeh, Williams said: “I reiterated my belief that the formation of a new government in Lebanon is needed as soon as possible to address the many challenges that the Lebanese people face.”

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Roumieh Inmates Continue Hunger Strike

Some 1,200 inmates in Roumieh prison have continued their hunger strike for the third day in a row demanding a general pardon and improving the conditions in the prison, reported the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Wednesday.

The committee charged with following up the situation in Roumieh prison held a meeting on Tuesday headed by Internal Security Forces chief Ashraf Rifi in order to address the situation in the jail and follow up on its maintenance operations and the needs of the inmates, including increasing the number of doctors at the prison.

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Berri Sites Tangible Progress in Cabinet Formation

Speaker Nabih Berri reassured Lebanese citizens on Wednesday that the government formation is making a “tangible progress” and the atmosphere is better than before.

There is a strong insistence to speed up the cabinet formation and intensive work is underway to reach the expected results, the speaker reportedly told lawmakers during his weekly meetings with MPs. There is “tangible progress,” he said.

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Miqati-Suleiman Meeting: Excessive Optimism on Cabinet Not Helpful

Political sources warned against being overly optimistic about the formation of the government anytime soon although they said that the atmosphere was more positive than before.

The sources told al-Mustaqbal daily in remarks published Wednesday that the “excessive optimism might not reflect the reality,” and said those who are being optimistic have most probably “rushed” to make their stances.

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Bassil Warns from Fuel Crisis if Prices Continue to Rise

Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil delayed on Wednesday the release of this week’s fuel prices, warning politicians from a crisis if the prices continue to rise.

“If the prices witness any rise next week I will abstain from signing it (the price update),” Bassil said during a press conference.

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Syrian Green Light Intensified Cabinet Formation Contacts

Syria has allegedly been behind the latest Hizbullah proposal to end the government formation impasse after the aides of the speaker and the Hizbullah leader met with Syrian officials in Damascus.

According to An Nahar daily, Syria gave the “password” to MP Ali Hassan Khalil and Hussein Khalil who returned to Beirut with new suggestions, including three possible names to head the interior ministry, which has been behind the three-month stalemate.

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Jumblat: Attempts to Solve Interior Ministry Deadlock Making Progress, Suggested Names ‘Excellent’

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat confirmed to As Safir newspaper on Wednesday that ‘positive indications’ reveal a progress in the attempts to solve the interior ministry stalemate.

The names that are being studied to lead the ministry are “excellent,” he said, hoping that the mediation of Hizbullah with the cooperation of Speaker Nabih Berri would succeed.

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March 8: Suleiman Has No Excuse to Reject Latest Hizbullah Proposal

The March 8 forces threw the ball in President Michel Suleiman’s court after Hizbullah mediated to solve the interior ministry portfolio deadlock by proposing several new names that could head the ministry.

March 8 sources told An Nahar daily in remarks published Wednesday that “Suleiman has no excuse to reject it (the new proposal) and the ball is now in the court of the president.”

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Aoun: When Dispute over Interior Ministry is Resolved, Others Will Arise

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun demanded on Tuesday that Speaker Nabih Berri convene parliament to hold a legislative session in order to approve a number of draft laws.

He said after the movement’s weekly meeting: “We resorted to Berri because he is the only authority in the matter.”

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Suleiman Meets Syrian Ambassador: We Hope Stability Will Be Restored in Syria

President Michel Suleiman hoped on Tuesday that stability would be completely restored in Syrian regions that witnessed protests recently in order that the reforms pledged by Syrian President Bashar Assad would be implemented.

He warned after holding talks with the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali of the dangers of sectarian incitement in the Arab country being launched under the guise of demanding reform.

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