OUTCOME OF FIRST ROUND OF BINDING PARLIAMENTARY CONSULTATIONS AT BAABDA PALACE

NNA – President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, held the first round of binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a premier to form the new government.

MPs successively arrived at Baabda Palace, and were received by President Aoun in his office, while he received the large parliamentary blocs in the ambassadors’ salon.

Deputy-Parliament Speaker Bou Saab:

Deputy Parliament Speaker, MP Elias Bou Saab,asserted that the stage that Lebanon is going through is exceptional and requires everyone to try to think to pass it easily and secure what all Lebanese demand and stand up to their interests.

“Since the options today are clear to everyone, and we have a candidate who is Prime Minister Mikati, in addition to another candidate, and some may have other names, but in fact, the greatest opportunity exists today with Prime Minister Mikati. But since there is no clarity for the next stage, i.e. the post-commissioning stage, i.e. authorship, and it is not known until we are going as to how the government will be formed, and what form it will be in, I decided not to name anyone” MP Bou Saab said.

“However, I hope that the designated premier, and in this case may be PM Mikati, expedite the formation of a government because the situation cannot be postponed, and to develop an economic plan and implement the proposed recovery plan in addition to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and other urgent and necessary matters. We hope to adopt flexibility through engagement and leniency between the parties, in order to form a government that meets the demands of the Lebanese” Bou Saab concluded.

National Moderation bloc:

Then President Aoun received the National Moderation Bloc, in whose name MP Walid al-Baarini said: “After the bloc was announced yesterday, consultations took place between colleagues and we continued until the end of the night. In hope to get us out of the current crisis, we named PM Mikati, and we hope that after the assignment, the formation will not be late, because the longer the formation takes, the greater the country will collapse”.

MP Gemayel:

After meeting the President, MP Sami Gemayel said “Based on the results of the elections, where the Lebanese were clear in their message and their desire to change the existing approach, we tried to play our role as an opposition party for more than 8 years to the way the country is governed, by proposing a prime minister who has a different approach and a different vision to manage the crisis and get Lebanon out of the disaster it is experiencing, who is Ambassador Nawaf Salam.

We hope that we will not submit to the logic that says that a government will not be formed before presidential elections are held, and everyone is in line with this reality and acts on this basis, and no one takes any entitlement, especially the entitlement to head the government, seriously. We hope that everyone will take this entitlement seriously and work to form a government because the country cannot wait four months for presidential elections. The people cannot wait for that, neither the economy nor the national currency. No one can withstand today for four months in the situation we are in today. Therefore, we do not make any manoeuvres and we are clear. We will remain honest with the people, and implement what we promise them before, during and after the elections.

Therefore, we hope that all blocs will assume their responsibilities, and if it is true we want a different approach, then that starts from here by choosing a prime minister who has a different approach and a personality independent of the reality we live in today”.

MP Al-Khazen

MP Farid Al Khazen indicated that MP Melhem Tawk is absent from consultations today due to travel outside the country.

MP Al-Khazen said: “The Future National Bloc includes four deputies. We held a meeting and deliberated a lot on the issue of naming a prime minister, and after taking response and consulting in depth on this issue, we have taken a decision to nominate Premier Najib Mikati, and the reason is, of course, not that it is the choice that enables many Lebanese to achieve the change they want, perhaps to a new performance and new faces, not blaming those present, but Lebanon and the Lebanese people aspire, as we saw in the election climate. We will have new faces, perhaps better than those who were in the past, but in fact, there is the interest of the country that dictates the formation of a government as soon as possible, and the one who has more potential and greater luck to be able to form a government in a quick time is PM Najib Mikati.

We call on all political forces, whether in the authority or the opposition, to extend a hand, open up, and get out of the political positions and confinements on which we contested the elections and were present in the previous stages. It is never required of any political party to abandon its political principles or political line, but we consider that the loaf of bread, wheat and flour have no color or political positioning for them, as well as electricity, gasoline, livelihood and the economy.

Lebanon cannot rise unless all political forces leave their political positions and extend their hand to other forces. From the presidential palace, the palace of all the Lebanese, regardless of our political stance towards it, we extend our hand to all political forces to cooperate in the interest of Lebanon”.

In response to a question, MP Michel Al-Murr replied: “Colleagues resemble us in the way of thinking, morals, and political performance. We agree on many political principles”.

Democratic Gathering Bloc:

Then MP Taymour Joumblat said: “The Democratic Gathering Bloc named Ambassador Nawaf Salam today to form the government, and in order not to repeat what we said in the last three years, we will shorten the day further. We have one request and we hope that all officials will do one good thing before the change happens, if there is a change, and they facilitate the formation of this government. As a bloc and as a progressive socialist party, we will not participate in this government, but we will help in forming it”.

Masharii bloc:

President Aoun received the Masharii bloc in whose name MP Taha Nagy said that the bloc named PM Mikati.

MP Nagy said “It is true that the government will have a short lifespan, meaning for four months, but it will have many tasks on it, whether in terms of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund or urgent issues such as bread, flour, electricity, water and all the suffering of the people, so that we need someone to take care of these files quickly because there is general pain”.

Islamic Association bloc:

MP Imad Al-Hout, said “In light of the supposed short life of the government, we do not see that we need, or it is appropriate, to start from scratch, and therefore we named PM Najib Mikati to head the government with some remarks on the government’s performance. We wished His Excellency the President to facilitate the formation of a government that is not based on political quotas, but on competencies so that it is an important government in every sense of the word in order to complete the dialogue with the International Monetary Fund and go towards a real recovery plan that preserves the rights of depositors and takes the country towards the right path”.

In response to a question about the reason for calling him as one deputy in a bloc, he replied “I represent the Islamic Group, which is a political party, and therefore it is customary to call parties as blocs. I was in the group’s bloc and will remain, but this will not prevent coordination and consultation in joint meetings and blocs”.

MP Raad:

MP, Mohammed Raad said “Our position is easy and clear. Lebanon today, more than ever before, needs a government that manages its affairs and interests, and the affairs and interests of the Lebanese.

In crises, realism and national interest require providing all opportunities and overcoming all obstacles in order to form a government that exercises decision-making authority in the face of all dues. It is normal that the personality of the designated PM would enhance the availability of the opportunities required for this purpose. The Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, and during the binding parliamentary consultations conducted by the President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Aoun, today named Mr. Najib Mikati as Premier-designate to form the desired government, wishing him Good luck and success. We also wish Lebanon good recovery and lasting stability”.

Strong Republic Bloc:

MP George Adwan said “The Strong Republic Bloc did not name anyone today to form the government. We did not name anyone because the bloc was trying during the last period that separated us from the issuance of the election results to compile forces that we meet with on the issue of sovereignty in particular, in order to have a single position on naming a prime minister.

Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in this issue and we will continue to try because we consider that there is the will of the people for the presence of a majority sovereign team in the parliament and that this team has the ability to build the state as it should. And I believe that it is our duty as the largest bloc in the Parliament to have this endeavor to gather these forces. Although we were not able to do that, we will continue with this endeavor. And when we were not able to do this, we were put before two names. We did not meet with him, especially on the issue of continuing to form governments called national accord governments, preventing accountability and turning the parliament into a mini-cabinet in the government. This is one of the reasons, but there are other reasons that I will not mention here today. Nawaf Salam, we, and I will anticipate the question that you will ask, we have already named because when we want to name, there are two things that must accompany each other: the person and the program. When we named Judge Salam, we knew about him, and the program was the French initiative, and there was no need to sit together and discuss the program with him.

But after we called him, there was no communication. We had hoped, given his personality as a person, to take the initiative and meet with him, to see his positions on the various points that we raise for the Prime Minister-designate’s programme. That did not happen, and we as a group, and from now on, whenever there is a candidate for prime minister as well as for the presidency of the republic, he must announce his program to the public, from the basic political and economic issues and the recovery plan to other issues, and he adheres to it. We will, on this basis, combine his person, his past, and whether he adheres to what he is doing, and our program on the basis of which people gave us their votes as the largest bloc in the Parliament. We have won the people’s trust on the basis of a program that begins with sovereignty and we are not prepared to forfeit their vote for any reason. This also led to the judge not being named Salam. I hope that we have made our position clear before the public opinion, towards which we bear our responsibility.

In response to a question, he said that “Mr. Nawaf Salam did not communicate with us, and any candidate for prime minister should communicate and talk to us about his program, and this is a foregone conclusion now and in the future, and it applies to the prime ministership and the presidency. It is time for people to choose between people, given their commitment to their decision and their programme.

We will continue to strive not to unify the opposition, but to unify the new majority because the people elected it to be a new majority, and we will continue to strive and any talk that contributes to dismantling it. We as Lebanese forces will be wary of it”.

MP Mouawad:

MP, Michel Mouawad said “I and my partner in the “Northern Confrontation” bloc, MP Abdul Masih, today named Judge Nawaf Salam to head the government.

Facing the options available to us to confront the system, and in front of naming a new name or another increases the dispersion of the opposition, we considered that Judge Nawaf Salam is the best option among the options available to us to confront the system.

The way each of us expresses his opposition to the choice of the system, that is, President Mikati, is an important matter, but not the most important. The most important thing is how we got here? The most important thing is that we cannot continue in this way. Dispersal of the opposition is a major obstacle to our ability to change and will turn us from a force of change to an oppositional force, and with time, this force will become ineffective, leading to a corrupt system, and it will keep the situation as it is, with more poverty and humiliation, and the Lebanese begging for their money and their livelihood, losing their jobs and becoming immigration projects.

Hence, I appeal to the opposition today, for the third time, after the battle for the presidency of the House of Representatives, and the battle of committees, and the experience is the formation of a government. We will not be able to create a force for change except in the light of understandings. I understand that the opposition is multiple, and cannot agree on everything. But I cannot understand that the opposition cannot reach an understanding, at least in the crucial constitutional and political entitlements. If we continue in this way, we will bear a responsibility as much as the system bears a responsibility, because we protect this system in practice and support its continuation in power. All the Lebanese know that no matter what we say, this system gets the majority, at a time when the Lebanese did not give it a clear majority, and this practically will keep Lebanon as it is”.

In response to a question about not coming to consultations with MPs Fouad Makhzoumi and Ashraf Rifi, MP Mouawad said: “Our position was clear, first, to agree not to nominate PM Najib Mikati as the party’s candidate. Secondly, we took a preliminary decision to work together to form a parliamentary bloc that we did not form yet, and we said, although we come from a different opinion on the issue of forming a government, that we will work in the remaining 24 hours to unite the opposition. If we succeed in uniting the opposition to nominate any name, we are going to name that name, and our candidate will be the candidate of the united opposition. But we did not succeed in uniting the opposition, and this is certainly not our responsibility, for expressing how to object has become a detail. We are going to form a parliamentary bloc with Professor Fouad Makhzoumi and Professor Ashraf Rifi, in the next few weeks, and we have made the necessary understandings to announce this bloc before July 5”.

In response to another question about whether the talk about the dispersal of the opposition was directed at the Lebanese Forces because the size of the bloc is large and therefore the responsibility is great for not naming Nawaf Salam to form the government, MP Mouawad replied: “It is clear that this talk is not directed at any party, and what we have reached is not the responsibility of any party in the opposition, and I do not want to go into details today. The facts have become known by all the Lebanese, especially that the media repeated them more than once. There is a collective responsibility in the opposition. And we have become responsible because the opposition is not a battle, a war of classifications, or a war of interests. We must all be aware that there is a shared responsibility to agree, at least in the basic constitutional deadlines, otherwise we will all bear the responsibility for the collapse of this country”.

MP Al-Sayed:

MP, Jamil Al Sayed said “The elections opened an opportunity for people to carry out a political coup if they wanted, but unfortunately, between sectarian and political slogans, financial temptations and others, it brought people back to the same structure, and it bears the responsibility in this matter, and the picture is repeated in the parliament and today it is repeated in assigning PM Mikati, whom I have nothing personal against in my own understanding.

Unfortunately, I think that in this atmosphere we are practicing positive folklore that there is a practice of democracy and an application of the constitution in the form, but this issue will not be reflected in anything positive for the benefit of the people and their needs, starting with the dollar issue, ending with medicine, fuel and others.

The coup opportunity was given to hold the structure accountable, the people who bear this responsibility lost it. The media, if any citizen descends on the ground later, should ask him who did you vote for? Because there was your real chance to do what he should have done. Assigning Premier Mikati today, and if there is any change in the names, and this is what is currently circulating, the matter will take time in light of the possibility of a presidential void, and then the value of this government that will be formed will double, because all power will be in its hands and the powers of the President of the Republic will be transferred to it, and therefore none of my duties is to cause people to despair. Rather, they should know where we are going.

Realism says that what is happening today will not help the country, the people and the state out of the situation they are in and deteriorating unless the presidential elections are held and a separate government is given. If the matter is completed in the current path, unfortunately, and I do not spread pessimism among people, but the reality forces us to say that, and there is a role for people, even if the elections are over, they must pressure, because the matter has reached “bread”, and I do not think that there are those who can bear today what is happening.

Small anaesthetic shots with which they hang out with people, such as giving them 400 dollars and others, they pay people out of their bag, because the money that is available and the dollars that are spent are from the depositors’ money. So it goes to people by “extra” and goes to those who have a deposit in dollars or to those who do not have a deposit in dollars, this is bribery. But I repeat and repeat that there is not a single official in the state and in the executive authority that manages all institutions, who plays a suicidal rescue game for the benefit of the country and the people”.

MP Al Sayed was asked “Do you have any name for the presidency of the government that prevents the fall?”

MP Al Sayed said “There are names. The country is not devoid of competencies and names of all sects. What is required when a government comes, is that it not be composed of presidential quotas, because the council will monitor it if this council is the police and the judge on the one hand, and corruption on the other. How? Will he act as an accountant?”

MP Al-Samad:

MP, Jihad Al Samad said “With regard to the fragmentation of the political representation of the Sunnis as a result of the decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and because I believe that the injustice suffered by him was reflected in the political presence of the Sunni sect in the political system and the national partnership, and because I still believe, despite his absence, that he is the most representative of his sect, I deposited with His Excellency the President the name of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to head the government”.

MP Mrad:

MP Hassan Mrad, said “I was honored today to meet the President of the Republic within the framework of binding consultations, and in view of the accuracy of the stage and the deterioration of the general situation, and the lack of time for the prospective government, we named PM Najib Mikati so that he can continue to perform his mission in the hope that he will be able to accomplish something during this difficult period, especially since the citizen can no longer bear and stand firm in light of the constant high prices, raising prices and the continued unjustifiable reservation of deposits, in order to escape from reaching the day when we remember the saying of Imam Ali, peace be upon him, “I am amazed at those who do not find food for their day.” That he does not come out wielding his sword. This is a warning, so let those concerned with the matter hear it”.

MP Talozian:

MP Jean Talozian, said “I named Premier Mikati for more than one reason. First, it is better that we do not have a designated prime minister and a caretaker prime minister, but rather one prime minister, and secondly: We all know that if we consider that we are in a democratic country and this government should be formed tomorrow or after it as a maximum, and its life will be very short because we are facing the presidential elections that start two months before the end of the presidential term, and it is better that a new government not come that has to study the files again, and PM Mikati may be ruling his presence at the head of the caretaker government is able to form a government with a specific amendment to the current government.

As I said, if we consider that we are in a democratic country, this country is the only one in the world in which the opposition says it is the majority, and the opposition, when it becomes a majority, usually takes over the rule. They name the prime minister, elect the president of the republic on the set date, and the authority is transferred to a new president, and the new government performs its duties”.

MP Makhzoumi:

MP Fouad Makhzoumi said “I did not name anyone because the two options presented do not represent my convictions or the convictions of the people who elected us. In the past, I named Ambassador Nawaf Salam twice, but we have not yet heard his name, an explicit and clear position from him regarding the issue of weapons, the rescue plan, the return of depositors’ money, theissue of electricity.

As for Najib Mikati, we all know that he represents the system, and that by re-assigning him, this system returns to impose itself. This matter really saddens us, and according to my convictions, I tried to choose the white paper, and if there was a unity of word on the name of Nawaf Salam, we would have named him and ignored our opposition to him. But since there is not a single opposition, and here I hope that the opposition will unite before the presidential elections, because what is required today is a person who has economic competencies, lives with us and knows our pain and problems, not that the process will eventually be a tribute to him in this position.

If we gather in the opposition to form a large front before the presidential elections next October, we will have actually decided to confirm the results of the elections, which gave the system 57 deputies out of 128, but unfortunately they were later able to form themselves. If we all worked in the opposition, we might be able to to show that the majority is against this system, and to bring a president of the republic and a government that represents the aspirations of our people. And I hope that we all work together. In the end, I did not name Najib Mikati or Nawaf Salam, and I wish the best for our country because our people are able to stand again when there is unity of word”.

MP Al-Bizri:

MP Abdel Rahman Al-Bizri, said “His Excellency, the President informed us that we will not name anyone to form the government, and this position stems from our conviction that the reform and change project has not been completed in chapters yet and there is no unified working paper for us to follow. Also, PM Mikati’s approach is well known. We do not agree with what is happening. As for Ambassador Salam, with our great appreciation for him, we do not know what his project is, so we decided not to name anyone in the consultations”.

MP Daher:

MP Michel Daher said “I did not name anyone. Today it is known that the result will be in favor of Mikati, and I have an objection to him regarding the recovery plan, because the plan he prepared is a “walk barefoot” plan and not a recovery plan, and I have many comments on it”.

MP Saad:

MP, Osama Saad said “The devastation in Lebanon is great and deep, people have been exhausted by crises and besieged by calamities, justice has been absent, rights have been usurped, dignity has been violated, and injustice, oppression, tyranny and corruption have been witnessed. This is evidence of the failure of the rulers. There is nothing new today but the renewal of a political reality in dire straits, with serious repercussions.

Generations demand change and demand accountability and new generations refuse to distinguish between one people on sectarian and religious bases, no eligibility for decision-making centers in the state to meet the demands and aspirations of generations for a modern state. The ones who lost are returning to power even if they are in ruins of state institutions, Lebanon, in its difficult circumstances, needs another path, a path whose balances and conditions are not yet available, even if its men are available.

The balance of power does not allow this now. We have no choice but to escalate the struggle against the rulers of shame, oppression, corruption and humiliation. We have no choice but to seek new power equations, and that is not far off. In the public sphere there are capable competencies, the current political sphere does not allow them to play roles in positions of power. The principled, realistic and frank positions are important, necessary and credible in exceptional and dangerous circumstances, so today I will not name anyone, thank you”.

MP Frem:

MP, Nehmat Frem said “We were honored to meet with His Excellency the President and the Human Homeland Project bloc, and we talked about the priorities and the people’s pain that increases every day, such as the conditions of the cooperative Lebanese state employees who are permanently unemployed today, the Social Security and the Ministry of Health, and other entitlements to come, especially in the winter season, for every family in Lebanon, in addition to negotiating with the World Bank and indirect negotiations on the southern maritime borders. All of these matters point to the importance of completing the work that has begun, and for PM Najib Mikati to complete this work, but I was hoping that there would be a better work on that. My colleague, the new representative from Tripoli, Jamil Abboud, named Premier Mikati to form the government, and I refrained from naming anyone.

The agreement between us is clear and there is no disagreement”. — Presidency Press Office

Source: National News Agency-Lebanon

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MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, UNICEF, EU INAUGURATE FIRST CHILD-FRIENDLY ROOMS AT SIX PALACES OF JUSTICE IN LEBANON TO PROTECT CHILDREN’S RIGHTS DURING JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS

NNA – The Ministry of Justice, with support from UNICEF and the European Union joined efforts to protect children’s rights in the justice system. The first child-friendly facility inside the Palaces of Justice was inaugurated today in Saida to provide a safe, confidential and friendly environment for all children involved in judicial proceedings.

Currently the Palaces of Justice in Lebanon are adult-oriented and do not provide special consideration for the needs of children who become involved in judicial proceedings. As of today, child-friendly facilities are now available in the courthouses of Baabda, Beirut, Saida, Nabatieh, Tripoli and Zahle.

Minister of Justice Judge Henry El-Khoury expressed that “the hearing rooms bears a special importance in establishing an integrated Child-friendly justice system, especially for those who are in contact directly with laws in its various contexts, starting from their first experience until their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Moreover, this system was and still one of the main goals, and one of the most important targets of the Ministry of Justice, based on their vision and beliefs that the children are like a basic and essential building block of any society, and that they have a crucial role in social development”.

Access to child-friendly facilities in the Palaces of Justice is central to prevent and respond to all forms of abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect towards children and would mitigate risks that children involved in judicial proceedings may experience, reduce the psychological distress associated with their involvement in these proceedings, and ensure confidentiality.

Rein Nieland, Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Lebanon said: “The Inauguration of child friendly facilities at Palaces of Justices across Lebanon reflect not only our commitment in promoting the rights of children – but it also displays our unwavering resolve in standing alongside Lebanon amidst the hardships the country continues to endure. The European Union remains committed to working with the Lebanese Ministry of Justice and local stakeholders in strengthening the country’s judicial system, most notably through much-needed reforms that can guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the pre-eminence of the rule of law

The establishment of these rooms went together with multiple efforts starting 2018 to address the needs of children in contact with the law from different angles including policy reform; system strengthening through the capacity-building of justice organizations and professionals, as well as the creation of child-friendly environments and procedures in the justice system; service provision like case management and psycho-social support; and prevention efforts at the community level.

The establishment of the child friendly rooms was coupled with the development of learning resources and the organization of child-sensitive training for relevant staff in contact with children, namely juvenile judges, social workers, law enforcement officers and lawyers.

“The justice system is key to safeguard the rights of children and these new child friendly spaces are one step towards strengthening the justice systems in favour of a child rights approach to ensure children are protected and supported, and their rights granted in fair proceedings,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. “Vulnerable children rarely have access to child-friendly justice and for the past few years UNICEF has been working with the EU and line ministries to promote a child-friendly response to children who come into contact with the law, and we would like to thank all partners for this positive collaboration, as we continue to work together to protect every child”.

UNICEF will continue to work towards a child justice system that is accessible, adapted to and focused on the needs and the rights of children, and that minimizes the risk of harm inflicted on them during justice proceedings.

Source: National News Agency-Lebanon