Salam Says Presidential Vote 'Not Impossible' but Warns of Vacuum's Effects

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has stressed that the agreement reached among the rival parties ahead of the formation of his cabinet earlier this year is a sign that a deal on the presidential crisis is possible.

In remarks to several local dailies published on Thursday, Salam said the deal struck between the March 8 and 14 alliances, which led to the formation of the government, “confirms that an understanding on the presidential elections is not impossible.”

The PM said it was not yet too late to elect a new head of state by May 25, after the rival parliamentary blocs again failed for the third week in a row to vote in the polls due to the boycott of the March 8 camp.

A new round of elections is set for next Thursday.

Salam said that the lawmakers should have good intentions. He also urged them to reach a deal on a personality who receives the backing of the majority of MPs.

He stressed that non-agreement on a certain candidate does not mean the elections would not be held.

“Let the person who receives the majority's backing win,” Salam told the newspapers.

He denied claims that a consensual president would be weak. “Is a president who backs a certain side against the other better?” he asked.

“That's not what Lebanon needs at these difficult circumstances,” Salam stated.

Despite his optimism on the ability of MPs to elect a new head of state before the expiry of President Michel Suleiman's six-year term on May 25, Salam expressed fears that non-agreement would have negative repercussions on the rest of the state institutions.

“I don't know in such a case for how long the agreement (among cabinet ministers) would stand,” he said.

“I sense the seriousness of the situation,” Salam told the dailies about the possibility that his government would take over the authorities of the president in case of a vacuum at Baabda Palace.



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