Health Minister Wael Abou Faour on Thursday rejected from Ain el-Tineh any attempt to spread political vacuum into the parliament and cabinet amid the ongoing presidential void, stressing that “obstruction” will not lead anywhere.
“We are in a dilemma and a failure has happened in the presidential elections, but that must not lead to other failures or the paralysis of the parliament and cabinet,” Abou Faour said after meeting Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh, delegated by MP Walid Jumblat.
“We must not turn the vacuum into a fireball that rolls towards the rest of the state institutions. We are calling for consensus regarding the presidency and until that happens, the institutions must not be impeded under any excuse, especially for the sake of a certain populist gain,” the minister added.
Answering a reporter's question, Abou Faour said “all the Lebanese know who is obstructing the presidential vote and who is proposing extreme choices.”
He noted that centrist MP Henri Helou, who was nominated by Jumblat's Democratic Gathering bloc for the presidency, is not “an intruder in the political life and he is practicing his democratic right.”
“Why are others boycotting the sessions and paralyzing the parliament?” Abou Faour decried.
“Where will the obstructive approach lead the country to? To further problems which the politicians might not find an exit from?” he asked rhetorically.
Abou Faour noted that Prime Minister Tammam Salam has suggested “a very clear roadmap” regarding the cabinet's work during the period of presidential vacancy and that “the Constitution does not need all these different interpretations.”
“We have heard a lot of constitutional heresies, that's why we must abide by the Constitution. Today, there are political and not constitutional motives, which are aimed at gaining popularity,” the minister went on to say.
“The meetings that Speaker Berri is holding will lead to positive results and we hope everyone would realize that extending vacuum to all institutions will not produce anything,” he said.
On Wednesday, Berri had held talks in Ain al-Tineh with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, who announced after the meeting that they discussed “the thorny issues, such as the presidential vote, the cabinet's faltering work and the parliament's performance.” Earlier on Thursday, the speaker met with PM Salam.
Separately, Jumblat held talks Thursday in Clemenceau with U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale, in the presence of Minister Abou Faour.
On Monday, Salam stressed that the Constitution is “clear” and “indisputable” regarding the powers of the government during a presidential vacuum, noting that “the PM is the one who asks cabinet to convene and prepares the session agenda.”
The cabinet had convened Friday for the first time after the end of ex-president Michel Suleiman's term. The parliament has failed to elect a successor to Suleiman -- whose six-year term ended on May 25 -- despite having held five electoral sessions for that purpose.
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