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Ban Urges Italy to Maintain Current Presence in Lebanon

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon has voiced hope that Italy will not draw down its peacekeeping force in Lebanon in the wake of the recent attack on its contingent in the south.

"I hope that Italy will maintain the current levels of its Lebanon contingent, in spite of the tragic attack on the Italian UNIFIL convoy," Ban told ANSA news agency on Wednesday.

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Jumblat, Miqati and Allies Deal Blow to June 8 Session

Head of the National Struggle Front bloc Walid Jumblat reportedly opposes a planned parliamentary session aimed at renewing the mandate of the Central Bank governor and might boycott the meeting on June 8.

Jumblat’s sources told As Safir daily on Thursday that the Druze leader prefers to resort to a “mobile draft-law” to renew Riyad Salameh’s mandate rather than holding a session amid the absence of a government.

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Suleiman Rejects Non-Consensual Parliamentary Session, Prefers ‘Mobile Draft-Law’

President Michel Suleiman has considered a move by Speaker Nabih Berri to hold a parliamentary session “non-consensual if a political team opposes it.”

His visitors told An Nahar daily published Thursday that the constitutional studies indicate that “mobile draft-laws” could be adopted and that “a cabinet session could also be constitutional to find a solution to pressing issues.”

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March 14 Rejects ‘Unprecedented Heresy’ of June 8 Parliamentary Session

The March 14 leadership has decided that the coalition’s MPs would boycott a parliamentary session called for by Speaker Nabih Berri on June 8 to take decisions on critical issues amid the absence of a government.

Sources close to the leaderships described attempts by Berri to release the agenda of the session as an “unprecedented heresy” in light of the rejection of five members of the parliament’s bureau committee for the concept of a legislative session.

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Miqati ‘Irrevocably’ Rules out Formation of Technocrat Cabinet

Premier-designate Najib Miqati has said that he “irrevocably ruled out the formation of a technocrat or de facto government” and reiterated that he rejects turning the cabinet into “provinces.”

Miqati confirmed to his visitors that several formulas have been suggested to end the government deadlock but blamed the large number of conditions for the delay in the formation of the cabinet.

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Geagea Warns Against Igniting South, North Fronts

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Wendesday stressed that “a parliamentary legislative session cannot be held amid the absence of a (new) government and the presence of a caretaker cabinet, because the parliament is a legislative and not an executive authority.”

Geagea warned of “the deteriorating economic situation in the country which is not being tackled by the officials.”

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Khalil Defends Berri, Accuses Hariri of ‘Rejecting Democracy, Militia Practices’

MP Ali Hassan Khalil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s political aide, on Wednesday lashed out at the March 14 camp, accusing some of its leaders of waging a “systematic campaign” against the house speaker.

“It seems that there is a systematic campaign … being waged by some of the leaders” of the March 14 camp “who are outside the country and are trying to respond to Speaker Berri’s remarks that ‘the Cedar Revolution has set Lebanon back 60 years,’” Khalil said.

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Nasrallah Calls for Improving Political System, Ending Debate on ‘Amending Taef’

Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday called for “acknowledging the flaws” in the Lebanese constitution and ending the years-old debate in the country over amending the Taef Accord, which ended the 1975-1990 civil war.

Nasrallah called instead for working on improving the Lebanese political system through dialogue and away from sectarian considerations.

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Maqdah on Naksa Day Preparations: All Palestinian Factions Will Take Part in Rally

Fatah leader in Lebanon Munir Maqdah denied on Wednesday reports that the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian groups will not take part in the Naksa Day rally scheduled for June 5.

He told the Central News Agency: “All Palestinian factions will participate in the event, including institutions from Lebanon’s civil society.”

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Hamadeh after Parliament Bureau Committee Meeting: Most Members Oppose June 8 Parliament Session

Speaker Nabih Berri headed on Wednesday a meeting for the Parliament Bureau Committee, after which the schedule for next week’s June 8 parliamentary session was distributed.

Official sources from the meeting stated that the schedule includes draft laws and proposed projects to be addressed by the MPs.

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