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Kataeb Fires Cabinet Minister for Defying Resignation Decision | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Minister of Labor Sejaan Azzi during a press conference held at his office in February 2015. NNA

Beirut-Lebanon is expected to witness this week several political developments that are set to affect the presidential elections and the work of the government in the coming months.

The rival leaders are scheduled to hold on Tuesday the 19th National Dialogue session, and the joint parliamentary committees will meet the next day to discuss the electoral draft-law.

As for Thursday, lawmakers are invited to attend the 41st session to elect a new president, despite the lack of signs on the possibility of having a new head of state.

The situation of the cabinet and the rest of the constitutional institutions is not any better, in particular after the Kataeb Party decided on Monday to fire Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi for defying its decision to resign from the government.

Former President Amin Gemayel, who was the party’s head before his son Sami took over the Kataeb leadership last year, failed in his mediation efforts to resolve the differences between Azzi and the Kataeb politburo.

Sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Sami Gemayel “is very frustrated from the recent escalatory stances made by Azzi … He had to be fired from the party because he didn’t allow for reconciliation to take place.”

Azzi is not the only Kataeb official to reject the party’s decision to resign from the government. Information Minister Ramzi Jreij, who also represents the Kataeb in the government, has decided to keep attending cabinet sessions.

He has said that he will not commit to the party’s decision to resign for not being a Kataeb official.

Azzi said that he would no longer attend cabinet meetings in line with the party’s desires, but that he would not resign.

“I will not attend cabinet sessions. I am not one to start a conflict with my party, and my resignation was given verbally amid the absence of a president. Therefore, I can continue to serve as a caretaker minister,” Azzi told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.

Only Economy Minister Alain Hakim, who is the third minister to represent the Kataeb in the cabinet, has abided by the party’s decisions.

Hakim believes that the resignations from the cabinet would pave way for the election of a new president.

He has hoped for the collapse of the government so that its members “feel the urge to elect a head of state.”

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the National Dialogue session that will be held on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Speaker Nabih Berri, who said in a press conference, that he is waiting for the response of the rival leaders on his latest initiative.

The major obstacle to the political crisis is the failure to elect a president, said Berri.
Yet the position of the rival politicians, mainly those from the March 14 camp, will not likely meet the speaker’s expectations.

Future Movement MP Ahmed Fatfat said that his party is holding onto its stance regarding the hybrid electoral draft-law.

Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement should make compromises rather than stressing on every occasion that they hold onto the single electoral district and the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal, said Fatfat.

“Our priority remains the election of a president because we don’t have faith in the pledges made by the other party on holding parliamentary polls and then presidential elections,” he told Asharq al-Awsat.

“We have bad experiences with them and we won’t repeat them,” said Fatfat.