President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, asserted that “Boycotting the cabinet sessions is an act of the will of the members present in it, and this is unacceptable. Every minister must appreciate the seriousness of the situation, and it is absolutely not permissible to ignore it at all. If there is an objection to a particular issue, it can be dealt with through the institutions. What happens is not voluntary. The Council of Ministers must convene and everyone bears his responsibility”.
“I am not obligated to sign any resolution alone, and no signature can abbreviate the Council of Ministers under a government with full constitutional descriptions” President Aoun stressed.
The President also indicated that any formations or promotions that take place in the security forces must be based on the principles stipulated in the laws in force.
In addition, President Aoun pointed to the need to follow up on the work of some NGOs, especially after the availability of information on external funding for them to carry out political activities in the upcoming parliamentary elections, in contrast to the goals for which they were established for, which are social and humanitarian goals.
For his part, Prime Minister, Najib Mikati pointed out that there is a fear that the call for conveningthe Cabinet will lead the country to other places or to a rift that must be cooperated to avoid.
“I am keen, like the President of the Republic, for the Council of Ministers to convene, especially since we are all affected by its failure to convene.We hope that we will soon be able to call for a meeting to address urgent issues. It is destiny that whoever assumes responsibility in this country should work to bring positions and viewpoints closer and not increase the rift, and this is our role and our approach and we will work to achieve it” PM Mikati stated.
Stances of President Aoun and PM Mikati came during the session of the Supreme Defense Council, which convened this morningat Baabda Palace under the chairmanship of President Aoun.
The Supreme Defense Council decided to extend public mobilization from 1/1/2022 to 31/3/2022, and to maintain the previously established procedures and measures, requesting military and security agencies to be ready to secure a stable holiday-period from a security point of view.
The Council also took some decisions related to general conditions and of a security nature, especially those related to issues of smuggling at the legal and illegal crossings, the production and trade of narcotics, the work of platforms for the exchange rate of the US dollar, and the monitoring of consumer prices.
The meeting was attended by the Ministers of:National Defense Maurice Sleem, Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Abdullah Bou Habib, Finance Youssef Al-Khalil, Interior and Municipalities,Bassam Mawlawi, Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, Justice, Henry Khoury, Public Health Firas Al-Abiad, Public Works and Transport Ali Hamiyeh.
Also attending were: Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, Director General of GeneralSecurity Major General Abbas Ibrahim, the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, Major General Imad Othman, the Director General of State Security, Major General Tony Saliba, Secretary General of the Supreme Defense Council, Major General Mahmoud Al Asmar, government commissioner to the acting military court, Judge Fadi Akiki, Assistant Director General of State Security, Brigadier Samir Sinan, Director of Army Intelligence, Brigadier General Antoine Qahwaji, Head of the Information Branch in the Internal Security Forces, Brigadier Khaled Hammoud, and Director of Information in the General Directorate of Public Security, Brigadier Youssef Al-Medawar, Director-General of the Presidency of the Republic, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and advisors to the President, former MP Dr. Walid Khoury, and Brigadier General Boulos Matar.
At the beginning, the President congratulated the Lebanese on holidays-occasion, and wished that the feast would return with better conditions than we live in today which are exceptional and difficult where politics overlap with the economy, security and social affairs.
The President also indicated that the Council is in the process of taking a decision on public mobilization to confront Corona outbreak, “But practical measures must be taken to confront this matter, especially since injuries are rising successively. President Aoun pointed to the security measures which must be taken on Christmas and New Year to enable citizens to celebrate the two holidays in stability and security, and military and security apparatuses must take measures which preserve public safety.
In addition, the President stressed the need to strengthen operations to combat drug smuggling, monitor the work of illegal exchange platforms and monitor the prices of consumer goods, especially during the festive season. President Aoun also asserted the need to follow-up on the work of some NGOs, especially after information on external funding for these organizations to carry out political activities in the upcoming parliamentary elections, contrary to the goals which they were established for, which are humanitarian and social goals.
Moreover, the President spoke about the termination issued by the Supreme Defense Council, and pointed out that it needs the approval of the Cabinet to be accompanied by a decree hence becomes in force.
“This is not the only issue which needs a Cabinet session to be held, since there are other urgent and necessary issues related to employees, running the public facility and determining the work with temporary staff and contractors for year 2022, starting from 1/1/2022, in addition to giving aid to citizens and increasing transportation allowance for private and public sector employees, and payment of dues for medicines and hospitals” President Aoun said.
“All these important issues need the Council of Ministers, and this is what must be presented so that the government can carry out its tasks, because without a Council of Ministers it is not possible to run the country’s affairs” the President continued.
Finally, President Aoun considered that boycotting cabinet sessions was an act of the will of the members present in it, and this is unacceptable, and every minister should appreciate the seriousness of the situation and it is absolutely not permissible to ignore it. “Everyone bears his responsibility, and I am not obligated to sign any resolution alone. No signature can abbreviate the Council of Ministers in light of a government that has full constitutional descriptions” President Aoun concluded.
For his part, Prime Minister Mikati focused on the work of the Council of Ministers, pointing out that there is a fear that the call for its convening will lead the country to other places or to a clash which must be avoided.
“Like the President of the Republic, I am eager for the Cabinet to convene, especially since I am affected by its failure. We hope that we will soon be able to call for a meeting to address urgent issues. Those who assume responsibility in this country should work to bring hearts closer, not drive them away. This is our destiny, and we will work to achieve it” PM Mikati said.
President Mikati also presented the meetings held at the Grand Serail to address urgent issues such as combating smuggling at the crossings, drug trafficking and promotion, dollar manipulation platforms, and monitoring consumer prices.
Moreover, Public Health Minister, Dr. Firas Al-Abiad, presented the health situation after the increase in corona infections and the negative repercussions on the capacity of hospital institutions, focusing on the importance of activating vaccination operations and the citizens’response to it.
The Minister of Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, and the Minister of Public Works and Transport discussed the situation of the wheat containers in the port of Beirut.
After the meeting, Major General Al-Asmar read the following statement:
“The Supreme Defense Council convened, today at the Presidential Palace, in a session chaired by President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and attended by the Prime Minister, a number of ministers, heads of security apparatuses, and the government’s delegate to the military court.
After concerned ministers and heads of security apparatuses deliberated the security and health situations, the Council decided to extend public mobilization from 1/1/2022 to 31/3/2022, while maintaining previously established measures and procedures.
Military and security services were requested to be ready and ensure a stable holiday-period in terms of security and for the Lebanese to enjoy some reassurance despite their concerns and extremely difficult circumstances.
Decisions were taken regarding the general and security situations, especially those related to issues of smuggling at the legitimate and illegal crossings, the production and trade of drugs, the work of US exchange rate platforms and the monitoring of consumer prices.
In addition, the Supreme Defense Council tackled the risks that the “Naameh” landfill may cause, and it was decided to request the Environment Minister to follow up on the matter.
Wheat granaries in the port of Beirut and the need to expedite measures to prevent fall were also deliberated, where the Council requested the Ministries of Economy and Trade, Public Works and Transport and the Council for Development and Reconstruction to address the issue according to the approved principles.
The meeting also addressed Syrian authorities opening the borders to all Lebanese vaccinated against the Corona pandemic, or those who obtained negative test results, and asked the General Directorate of Public Security to take similar measures in coordination with the Health Ministry.
The meeting ended and decisions were kept secret”.
Meeting between President Aoun and PM Mikati:
The meeting of the Supreme Defense Council was preceded by a bilateral meeting between President Aoun and Prime Minister Mikati, in which the latest developments were addressed.