Salam Holds onto Consensus although 'Vacuum Threatens Serail'

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has said that he was procrastinating on calling for a cabinet session to allow consultations taking place among officials to resolve the government crisis.

“The state's prestige is at stakes amid a paralysis striking its institutions,” Salam told An Nahar daily published on Monday.

The PM said that Defense Minister Samir Moqbel decided earlier this month to extend the terms of three top army officials to prevent a vacuum in the military institution.

Moqbel's decision angered the Free Patriotic Movement of MP Michel Aoun whose supporters held protests calling for the appointment of new high-ranking military and security officials.

“How would we provide the people's needs … if there is no consensus in the government?” wondered Salam.

The premier reiterated that consensus is necessary when asked if he would go ahead with decisions taken by only 18 cabinet ministers.

He said he rejected to be on anybody's side in the government. “The day I give up my consensual role, there is no need for me to continue in my position.”

Salam vowed to continue to exercise his authorities and stop crises from striking the government.

The cabinet failed last week to take any decision on the controversial decision-making mechanism or the waste crisis.

Salam said he paved way for everyone to express their opinion “so that they know I don't manage sessions in a dictatorial way.”

The PM's visitors also quoted him as saying on Monday that the parties paralyzing the cabinet would be held responsible for the repercussions of the standstill.

“The presidential vacuum shut the parliament's doors and is threatening the Grand Serail, the last institution functioning” properly, Salam told the visitors in remarks published in al-Joumhouria daily.

Lebanon has been without a president since May last year when Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended.

The vacuum at Baabda Palace has left the parliament in paralysis and caused disputes among ministers.



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