Tamam Salam Must Submit A Cabinet Proposal or Resign.

by Ghassan Karamtamam salam

The current Mikati care taker cabinet of Lebanon submitted its official resignation on March 22, 2013. Within less than a fortnight  Mr. Tamam Salam became the new Prime Minister designate ; just over six months ago.  Not much, if anything has happened since except for the obligatory daily references that Mr. Salam is still continuing his consultations. The complete and utter lack of progress in submitting a proposed cabinet to the Lebanese Chamber of deputies suggests that Mr. Salam has failed in his mission to form a cabinet and must resign for the good of the country.

The inability of a PM designate to form a cabinet over a period of  six months after he was officially charged with the task represents his failure to perform on the mission that he was entrusted with. It is true that the Lebanese constitution is silent about the time required to form a cabinet , after the official designation is delivered,but common sense and general custom makes it clear that this is not intended to be an open ended process. I am sure that putting in place strict time limits could be seen as introducing unnecessary system rigidity but I am also certain that no constitutional procedure for forming the executive branch of government is ever expected to go on forever. That would be counterproductive on at least two grounds: (1) It takes away from many parties the incentive to be flexible in their demands   and (2) it extends the life span of an already failed cabinet whose inability to perform adequately had forced it to resign. Both of the above presents a strong rationale to place a time limit on the time required by a PM designate before he/she is required to submit a cabinet formation for a vote of confidence. I am not sure which of the two above potential results is worse; is it the incentive given to potential major players not to compromise or is it to offer a failed government the right to keep on governing.

Mr. Salam has had more than enough time to enter into serious consultations with each of the 4-6 major political groups represented in the Lebanese parliament and to learn about their demands and abilities to act as productive participants in a cabinet led by him. If six months is not long enough to contact 6 parties then obviously the process is cumbersome, inefficient ,very badly designed and in need of change. No one would expect  a major institution, governmental, commercial, not-for-profit or multilateral not to replace its leadership in short order and for that leadership to set in motion as quickly as possible a new vision to replace the outgoing unsatisfactory one so why is Lebanon different?.  I am sure that Tamam Salam is a decent, honourable and well meaning person whose only goal is the welfare of the Lebanese people but that is not enough. There comes a point when intentions must be actualized, that is ultimately the only tangible measure and that is what distinguishes one person from another.

Mr. Salam has a moral obligation to come clean with the Lebanese public after having spent six months in pursuit of the elusive goal of putting together the best group of people that would help him bring to fruition his goal of an effective and capable cabinet. How can it be possible that he could not find 10-30 competent Lebanese nationals who would be privileged to serve their fellow countrymen overcome the major challenges that the state is facing. Mr. Salam must let us know in simple and clear terms why he has not been able to fulfill his task?  The argument that he does not see his task as that of forming a cabinet of the most qualified but as a cabinet that satisfies the whimsical demands of the selfish, vain and unpatriotic political leaders does not carry any moral and ethical weight, actually it is to be rejected on these grounds.

Tamam Salam or any PM designate for that matter is expected to serve to the best of his ability the greater good and not to submit to the blackmail of the political establishment. If a group of parliamentarians are given the chance to play an active productive role but they decline then so be it. The PM designate should then move to the next best alternative instead of continuously attempting the square a circle made of non malleable matter. The prime duty of a PM designate is cabinet formation within a reasonably short period of time that must not exceed 6-8 weeks. The worst that can happen is to submit a cabinet proposal and have it voted down by the Chamber. If the Chamber is to vote down repeatedly an honourable and competent proposed cabinet then the burden of obstructionism would have been shifted to the Chamber and consequently to the voters who have elected them.

Mr. Salam has no choice but to submit a proposed cabinet for the sake of his own personal integrity and for the integrity of the political system. It is clear that many are very glad to allow the present ineffective system persist, maybe that has been their primary motivation all along. Mr. Salam can also short circuit that effort by proposing a cabinet that I am certain he has been ready to propose for maybe the last 5 months.

  • Hannibal

    Kojak should submit to a bus with all the oligarch and go away to where we don’t care…

    • ghassan Karam

      Hannibal,

      Thanks for reminding me of Kojak !!! Kojak would not put up with all these obstacles but will do the right thing 🙂

      • dateam

        I have said it before and I will say it again…none of them want a government all are waiting for the outcome of syria. That unfortunately is what our politicians are.

        • ghassan Karam

          Dateam,
          But if we know that to be the case then none of them should be reelected.

          • dateam

            Thats correct….however we still follow the zaem mentality and thats what needs to be changed.

  • Hannibal

    Kojak should submit to a bus with all the oligarch and go away to where we don’t care…

    • ghassan Karam

      Hannibal,

      Thanks for reminding me of Kojak !!! Kojak would not put up with all these obstacles but will do the right thing 🙂

      • dateam

        I have said it before and I will say it again…none of them want a government all are waiting for the outcome of syria. That unfortunately is what our politicians are.

        • ghassan Karam

          Dateam,
          But if we know that to be the case then none of them should be reelected.

          • dateam

            Thats correct….however we still follow the zaem mentality and thats what needs to be changed.

  • freemanLiban

    Mr . Prime misinister Designate Tammam salam, it is your duty to reveal who is hindering the formation of the new government, who is calling the shots here, majority of people in Lebanon knows it is Hezbollah who is calling the shots, it is the shaytan party who is hindering the formation of the new government, so either you have the courage and form a fate accompli governemnt that has the goal of only serving the people in Lebanon and ease out the challenges and dificulties , or say publicly and officiallly who is preventing you from forming the new cabinet and step down , resign, no sense staying and trying something that will never see the ligt of day as long as Hezbollah is calling the shots and paralyzing our country who knows for how long, God help us.

    • ghassan Karam

      freemanLiban,
      Tamam Salam should forget about all the conflicting demands and simpy submit his cabinet and accept the outcome of a vote.

  • freemanLiban

    Mr . Prime misinister Designate Tammam salam, it is your duty to reveal who is hindering the formation of the new government, who is calling the shots here, majority of people in Lebanon knows it is Hezbollah who is calling the shots, it is the shaytan party who is hindering the formation of the new government, so either you have the courage and form a fate accompli governemnt that has the goal of only serving the people in Lebanon and ease out the challenges and dificulties , or say publicly and officiallly who is preventing you from forming the new cabinet and step down , resign, no sense staying and trying something that will never see the ligt of day as long as Hezbollah is calling the shots and paralyzing our country who knows for how long, God help us.

    • ghassan Karam

      freemanLiban,
      Tamam Salam should forget about all the conflicting demands and simpy submit his cabinet and accept the outcome of a vote.

  • libnan1

    Either sh@t or get off the pot.

    • 5thDrawer

      That’s what Ghassan said. 🙂
      ‘Fish or cut bait’ … but the cutting job pays too much in this case.
      The country is far from ‘up and running’ … pick some ‘leaders’ and let the people vote.
      If they are as stupid as Egyptians, we’ll know soon enough.

  • libnan1

    Either sh@t or get off the pot.

    • 5thDrawer

      That’s what Ghassan said. 🙂

  • Sebouh80

    The entire cabinet formation in Lebanon has become nothing short of an “empty charade” that is to say the least. As the gentleman in this article pointed out that both political factions in Lebanon have now reached a point that they have become deeply embroiled in the ongoing Syrian crisis which in itself is preventing the cabinet formation.
    Finally, the question is can Mr. Salam create a cabinet under these convoluted historical times. My humble answer is that the situation now has become beyond the control of the Prime Minister designate, and it is becoming clear of each passing day that the fate of Lebanon is now tied to the regional political developments.

    • ghassan Karam

      Sebouh,
      There is no doubt that any state will be influenced by its environment. But the PM designates job is form the best cabinet that he thinks can deliver something tangible for the everyday citizen. If the political establishment is to vote it down then so be it. But the PM designate must present a cabinet formation within a reasonable time. He?she cannot sacrifice the welfare of the state because they think that their selection will be voted down. If the first proposal fails then the same PM designate will be given another chance or a new one will be asked to try. The last thing that we need is non action based on the fear of failure. That would be similar to a deer freezing in the headlights of a car.

  • Sebouh80

    The entire cabinet formation in Lebanon has become nothing short of an “empty charade” that is to say the least. As the gentleman in this article pointed out that both political factions in Lebanon have now reached a point that they have become deeply embroiled in the ongoing Syrian crisis which in itself is preventing the cabinet formation.
    Finally, the question is can Mr. Salam create a cabinet under these convoluted historical times. My humble answer is that the situation now has become beyond the control of the Prime Minister designate, and it is becoming clear of each passing day that the fate of Lebanon is now tied to the regional political developments.

    • ghassan Karam

      Sebouh,
      There is no doubt that any state will be influenced by its environment. But the PM designates job is form the best cabinet that he thinks can deliver something tangible for the everyday citizen. If the political establishment is to vote it down then so be it. But the PM designate must present a cabinet formation within a reasonable time. He?she cannot sacrifice the welfare of the state because they think that their selection will be voted down. If the first proposal fails then the same PM designate will be given another chance or a new one will be asked to try. The last thing that we need is non action based on the fear of failure. That would be similar to a deer freezing in the headlights of a car.