Sleiman urges rivals to agree on elections law


President Michel Sleiman called during a year-end Cabinet meeting Thursday for a speedy agreement on a new election law that will allow elections to be held on time.

“Parliamentary elections must be held in a timely manner,” Sleiman told Cabinet, which convened in an ordinary session at the presidential palace in Baabda.

Forty-nine items were on Thursday’s agenda, which kicked off at 10.30 a.m.

Regarding the thorny issue of the wage hike for teachers and public sector employees, Sleiman said Cabinet needed more time to “carefully” study ways to finance the updated salary scale.

Earlier Thursday, a group of teachers held a protest on the road leading to Baabda Palace over the salary scale, which they insist should be referred to Parliament.

Prior to the session, Sleiman held one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

During the ministerial meeting, Sleiman also said the government would dedicate a session on Jan. 3 to discuss the issue of the growing number of refugees fleeing into the country from the violence in Syria.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, according to its latest update on the situation of Syrian refugees, says there are over 160,000 displaced Syrians who have registered with the U.N. refugee agency in Lebanon.

Turning to the case of the Lebanese hostages in Syria, Sleiman urged that the kidnappers release those still being held in Lebanon’s neighbor as “the ongoing abduction of Lebanese in Syria does not serve the kidnappers’ cause.”

Sleiman also stressed that he and Mikati were personally following up on the case of the Lebanese hostages.

The president reiterated his call for a resumption of National Dialogue.

“All these issues require everybody’s presence at the [National] Dialogue table,” Sleiman told ministers.

The president has set Jan. 7 as the date for the resumption of all-party talks, which the opposition has boycotted.

The March 14 alliance boycotted the talks following the October assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, one of the country’s top security officials.

The opposition insists on the resignation of Mikati’s government and has called for the formation of a neutral Cabinet to oversee the upcoming parliamentary elections.



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