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Lebanon: Cabinet Division Spreads to Development Projects on Sectarian, Regional Grounds | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Friday’s Cabinet Session chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Dalati Nohra/National News Agency

Beirut-A cabinet session held in Beirut Friday revealed the failure of Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government to deal with development projects due to internal disputes that reflected the deep division of Lebanon’s political forces over several pressing issues.

Ministers on Friday failed to agree on everyday projects that are in progress or being studied and revised.

Statements delivered by ministers ahead of the cabinet session showed that disputes among political forces were not restricted to national strategic issues, but had also impacted necessary everyday projects.

Each minister at the cabinet is trying to take a larger share from the controversial projects for his own sect or region.

The cabinet session held Friday to discuss projects currently managed by the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) had demanded from all ministers to provide the CDR within a period of 15 days a report on projects that have been implemented or underway from previous years until today.

Also, the cabinet tasked the CDR with preparing an analytical study on the projects mentioned in its report and the projects of ministries and public institutions, and to propose a general plan for these projects within a month.

CDR is the body that executes government projects. Some ministers say the CDR should explain on what basis it chooses the priority of implementing projects. Those ministers claim that projects in Christian-populated areas have been ignored by the council.

Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Each minister was asking for a higher share in these development projects for his own region, which is normal.”

For his part, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, who withdrew his resignation from the government after the Kataeb decided to expel him from the party, said the cabinet session was essential as it discussed the CDR report in all its pages.

Azzi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “discussions tackled numbers and the equal division of projects among all Lebanese regions.”

Azzi said he withdrew his resignation because he “represents all Christians and Kataeb Party supporters, who rejected the decision to expel him. He added: “I am still a minister in the government and I will attend all sessions.”