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Lebanon: Government Paves Way to Ministerial Statement before Moving to Electoral Law - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut- Lebanon’s cabinet kicked off its first session on Wednesday headed by President Michel Aoun in the presence of Prime Minister Saadi Hariri and all ministers after posing for the official memorial photo.

All political forces delivered positive statements on Wednesday reflecting their readiness to start work in the first cabinet of the new era, with a main mission to prepare for the parliamentary elections. The road to the ministerial statement seemed paved on Wednesday, as the statement would include a text including the “presidential oath statement” and the “previous ministerial statement.”

However, the mission of agreeing on a new electoral law is expected to be more difficult in light of a dispute among political parties, and that might technically delay the elections expected next May.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault arrived in Beirut on Wednesday evening in a first visit of a high-ranking French official following the election of a new president and the formation of a cabinet.

A statement issued by the French Embassy in Beirut said Ayrault is in Beirut to extend an invitation to President Aoun from French President Francois Holland to officially visit France.

The embassy also said the French minister would focus in his visit on the preparations for the parliamentary elections in 2017 “that will ensure a fair popular representation.”

Following Wednesday’s cabinet session, Information Minister Melhem Riachi quoted President Aoun as saying, “Amongst the duties of a national unity cabinet are finding a new electoral law and holding the parliamentary elections thereafter, safeguarding local security, giving the priority in each ministry to what citizens have for long been waiting, quickening to approve on the budget draft and settling the necessary appointments in vacant positions.”

Aoun was also quoted as calling for the necessity to combat corruption in all ministries.

During the cabinet session, Hariri called upon security apparatuses to preserve security across all Lebanon, especially in touristic places during holidays.

President Aoun also decided that the cabinet would convene every Wednesday, Riachi said.

And while Hariri asserted that drafting the ministerial statement would face no obstacles, Speaker Nabih Berri said Wednesday: “The priority, first, second, third and tenth is to complete a new electoral law as soon as possible.”

Labor Minister Moahmmed Kabbara told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday he was optimistic that the newly appointed committee to draft the ministerial statement would soon complete its task before the cabinet received Parliament’s vote of confidence.

The ministerial committee kicked off its first session on Wednesday afternoon.