The cabinet convened at the Presidential Palace in Baabda on Wednesday and was chaired by President Michel Aoun. Its discussed mainly the issue of the Syrian refugees and their return to their homeland and the controversial electricity file.
The meeting comes a day after Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc called for the return of Syrian refugees to their country and for coordinating the move with the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad .
“The higher Lebanese interest comes before anything else and this interest necessitates that the refugees return home and it is in the interest of Syrians as well,” Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said after the bloc’s weekly meeting in Rabieh on Tuesday.
“There are no taboos or complexes (regarding communication) with the Syrian state with which we share diplomatic representation,” Jreissati added.
But before the cabinet session began, Information Minister Melhem Riachi who represents the Lebanese Forces in the cabinet told reporters that an only “solution for the refugees crisis can be reached through the United Nations.”
All the pro Syrian parties including Hezbollah have been calling for coordinating the return of the displaced with the Syrian regime . but the demand was strongly rejected by other political camps mainly the Future Movement and the Lebanese Forces over fears of returning to the Syrian tutelage
Lebanese Forces Minister of Health Ghassan Hasbani said: “We are committed to what has been agreed with the international community and that is the return of the displaced to the safe areas of Syria “
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq stressed that “Lebanon will not return any refugee without international guarantees,” noting that “only the U.N. can specify the safe zones that the refugees can return to according to a paper that was prepared by the previous government and on which all political forces had agreed.”
But the pro Syrian State Minister for Parliament Affairs Ali Qanso said: “Communicating with the Syrian government is the the shortest way to address the file.”
Lebanon, a country of around 4.5 million people, is hosting about one and half million Syrian refugees.
Smells a rat
As for the electricity file, Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos blasted the the confusion surrounding it stressing that he he smells a rat : “The Lebanese can sense a kind of shady deal (behind the electricity file plan).”
He was refereeing to the electricity plan suggested by Free Patriotic Movement Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil.