Mikati says Cabinet sheltered Lebanon

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Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in remarks published Monday that the Cabinet has protected Lebanon through the regional tension surrounding the country.

“The Cabinet was able to preserve a minimum level of internal stability in light of an utmost level of regional tension,” Mikati, who spoke to As-Safir, said.

According to the prime minister, the government might not have been able to reach great achievements at such difficult phase. “But, at least it has succeeded in thwarting several plots aimed at targeting Lebanon’s stability,” said Mikati.

Addressing the March 14-led opposition’s call for the cabinet resignation, Mikati mocked such suggestion saying that the current majority is not “Santa Claus” to offer the opposition free political gifts such as its resignation.

“Does the March 14 team believe the majority is Santa Claus…. If they were in power, would they have accepted to resign?” Mikati asked.

The opposition has called on Mikati to step down ever since the assassination of a top security official in a car explosion in Beirut’s Ashrafieh.

The killing of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, which the opposition blames on the Cabinet the Syrian regime, widened the rift between the March 8 and March 14 coalitions and plunged Lebanon to a near-crisis situation.

To exert pressure against Mikati, the opposition also set his resignation as a precondition to resume National Dialogue and called for the formation of a neutral salvation Cabinet that would oversee the coming polls.

Mikati expressed earlier willingness to step down, provided that his resignation would be a prelude to a solution. He said he would only resign if a previous agreement over a new Cabinet is reached.

The country’s crisis led to discussions over a new electoral law and caused the meetings of a parliamentary subcommittee discussing the elections’ law to be put on hold.

In his remarks to the daily, Mikati reiterated that he supports an “integrated process” that would include an agreement on a new electoral law and a neutral Cabinet that would oversee the 2013 parliamentary elections.

The prime minister totally rejected holding elections based on the 1960 law and said such a bill has become completely “outdated.”

 

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