Lebanese PM calls for moderate president and for Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria


Tammam salam def 1Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Saturday warned of vacuum in the presidency, considering that it would drag Lebanon into “a difficult and critical phase.”

“We recommend communicating with Hizbullah officials to reach a settlement that would stop the party’s involvement in Syria, and restore all efforts to preserve Lebanon’s unity and immunity, and abiding by the disassociation policy.”

“Hizbullah’s participation in the Syrian war is a sensitive issue to deal with,” he commented.

He also called on local factions to communicate with Hizbullah regarding the party’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian war.

“I support the election of a moderate and poised figure, who is well-received by all factions,” Salam said on his preferences of Lebanon’s future head of state in an interview with Radio Monte Carlo.

The prime minister stressed that the presidential elections must be held following the approach adopted in the cabinet’s formation, which was “made in Lebanon.”

“Forming a locally-made cabinet gave us hope that this would also be reflected in the presidential elections,” he expressed.

“This is a democratic game; whoever wants to run for the presidency can run, whoever wins, let them win. This democratic approach must be emphasized in Lebanon, and it will open a new chapter in the country’s history that would strengthen our democratic system.”

Answering a question about whether his cabinet is ready to be handed over the president’s powers in case of a vacuum, the PM stressed that his cabinet “does not want to fill a vacuum.”

“I have said since the beginning that this cabinet is here for two months only, and it will focus on priorities such as the security situation, the issue of refugees, and the economic and financial situation in the country,” he reiterated.

“But our main priority remains reaching consensus over a new electoral law, and electing a new president,” Salam added.

“This is out mission and our goal, and we mentioned this in the ministerial policy statement.”

Earlier in the day, Salam also expressed hope that the new president would be a “local choice,” stressing that his cabinet will “do everything in its power to prepare for the presidential elections.”

“The international and regional powers, that have an impact on the Lebanese local affairs, support staging the presidential elections on time,” he said in an interview with the General Security magazine.

He stressed that his government will exert efforts to “prepare for the appropriate atmosphere to carry out the elections.

President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ends in May but the Constitution states that the parliament should choose a new head of state within a two-month period before the end of the incumbent’s term, which started on March 25.

Separately, the prime minister assured in his interview with Radio Monte Carlo that the new cabinet will commit to the policy of disassociation, which he considered to be “the best approach that could be adopted.”

Salam said that the deteriorating security situation “reached an unacceptable level, and was threatening the prestige and status of the state and its bodies.”

Therefore, a step forward in this respect came to be a necessity, he noted.

“The outcomes of the security plan were immediate in (the northern city of) Tripoli, as people of both rival neighborhoods (of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen) sat together and reconciled as if nothing has ever happened,” he said.

Salam remarked that the Syrian crisis had many consequences on Lebanon, whether in the increasing number of refugees, or the fighting that is influenced by the neighboring country’s clashes.

“This is something that we need to strictly deal with,” he said.