| 2 December 2021, Thursday |

Shiite ministers boycott Cabinet sessions, but participate in ministerial committee meetings

Najib Mikati’s government is unlikely to convene in the coming few days, and the Cabinet session will be not be held except in 3 cases. The first case is taking the brutal decision to dismiss Judge Tarek Bitar, which is still impossible, given the absence of any legal text that allows this, as well as the refusal of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, and even the Supreme Judicial Council to discuss such suggestion.

The second exception is represented in Amal and Hezbollah’s decision to retract this condition, and suspend the session boycott, which is also impossible.

The third possibility for the Cabinet to convene is that the Prime Minister calls for a session regardless of the position of the Shiite ministers, as Prime Minister Fouad Siniora did in 2006. But this option is not proposed, and Mikati will not do it and call for a session that is not attended by the ministers of Amal and Hezbollah, as it will be considered non-charter.

While waiting for a solution to be found, it seems that the cabinet sessions were replaced by bilateral meetings between the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, or by meetings of ministerial committees. Illogically, these meetings were not boycotted by Shiite ministers as they participated in it.

In Baabda, talks confirmed that Judge Bitar’s case can only be dealt through the judicial authority, specifically the Supreme Judicial Council, in accordance with the principle of separation of powers. Even the Minister of Justice, according to Baabda sources, has no authority to change or dismiss the judge.

So far, the Supreme Judicial Council has refused to take such a decision, and the meeting that was said to gather Judge Bitar with members of the Supreme Judicial Council to question him or hear what he has in this file did not take place.

Therefore, in the absence of any treatment by the concerned institution, it is better not to call for a Cabinet session to avoid any problem within the government. Aoun and Mikati has agreed to wait until this issue is addressed in the Supreme Judicial Council, and until it is confirmed that the Council of Ministers can meet in a calm and effective manner.

The sources stressed that isolating the procedural authority from the judiciary is essential, and when this is confirmed, the Council of Ministers can meet again.