Lebanon – Miqati Announces He Won’t Head Elections’ Cabinet: SCC Must End Strike to Issue Wage Scale

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Prime Minister Najib Miqati announced on Monday that he will not head the cabinet during the parliamentary elections, confirming that the Orthodox Gathering’s draft electoral law will not pass “as he has several ways to block it”.

“I am nominated for the elections and for this I will not be a premier during the electoral process,” Miqati said in an interview on MTV, adding that he supports the formation of a “neutral cabinet”.

Restating his total rejection of the “unconstitutional” Orthodox Gathering’s draft, Miqati explained that it contradicts with article 27 of the constitution.

“If they want to suggest federalism, let’s honestly discuss it at the national dialogue sessions instead of trying to apply it in different ways,” he remarked.

The PM confirmed that the proposal will not pass, revealing that he has “ways to block it”.

He declared: “It will not even reach the Constitutional Council”.

Miqati elaborated saying that it is a matter of “which Lebanon we are looking to build”.

“We are certainly heading towards a wrong path by supporting the Orthodox proposal,” the PM said.

The controversial Orthodox draft law that divides Lebanon into a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system, has been rejected by President Michel Suleiman, al-Mustaqbal bloc, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, and the March 14 opposition’s Christian independent MPs.

Miqati expressed that reaching consensus over an electoral law is impossible, describing the Fouad Butros proposal as the “most suitable suggestion to be adopted”.

The Butros Committee electoral draft law suggests electing 71 parliamentary seats based on proportional representation while the remaining 57 seats would be elected based on a winner-takes-all system, where each province would be adopted as an electoral district.

“Political factions are looking for their own interests,” he said.

President Suleiman and Miqati had signed earlier on Monday the decree calling on electoral bodies to hold the parliamentary elections on June 9.

Miqati explained that he signed it to “fulfill his constitutional duty”: “As a statesman, the elections must take place despite my opposition to the 1960’s law”.

On the ongoing strike staged by the Syndicate Coordination Committee, Miqati said he will not submit the new wage scale for vote if ‘he is not convinced”, revealing that it is being examined at the moment and promising to refer it to the parliament after the cabinet’s upcoming session on March 21.

“The SCC’s demands affect the financial stability in Lebanon and I will not accept putting the banks at risk as they protect the Lebanese people’s savings,” Miqati stated.

He elaborated: “If the deficit increased, so will the national debt and then Lebanon will enter a dangerous zone”.

“It will all affect the financial and the investment sectors”.

Miqati confirmed that he will not issue anything under pressure: “I will not submit it for vote if the SCC does not end its strike”.

The SCC has announced an open-ended strike two weeks ago over its demand that the government refers the public sector wage raise – approved last year – to parliament for approval.

The SCC has been holding sit-ins and demonstrations near state institutions almost on a daily basis.

The government argues that it is delaying the decision on the funding in an attempt to thoroughly discuss plans to boost the treasury’s revenue to cover the expenses of the salaries boost.

On the security situation in the country and the ongoing clashes on the Lebanese-Syrian border, the premier said it is largely affected by political tensions in the country, calling for applying the defense policy submitted by President Suleiman and for withdrawing all weapons from the streets.

“I cannot guarantee that the incidents on the border will not be repeated but they will not lead to severe problems,” he remarked, reaffirming the disassociation policy towards Syria’s events.

Suleiman’s defense policy, to the Baabda Declaration, stipulates that Lebanon should commit to the policy of disassociation to avoid the spread of the unrest in Syria to Lebanese territory.

 

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