Lebanon resumes efforts to form government

Lebanon has been without a government since an election almost eight months ago. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2019
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Lebanon resumes efforts to form government

  • Gebran Bassil, visited Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday and said he presented Hariri with “ideas, and we will not lack the means or ideas to form a government.”

BEIRUT: With the end of the holiday period, Lebanese politicians have revived efforts to form a government before the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut on Jan. 16-18.

The Maronite Patriarchate’s media spokesman Walid Ghayyad told Arab News that the Hezbollah delegation that visited Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi on Wednesday to congratulate him on Christmas “reflected a positive atmosphere toward the process of forming a government.”

Ghayyad declined to discuss the details “for fear of spoiling things,” adding: “We don’t want to engage in analysis, but all that can be said is that the ways out were discussed.”

Mahmoud Qamati, deputy head of Hezbollah’s political council, said the delegation told Al-Rahi that “all those involved in forming the government are serious about it and there are no external obstacles.” Qamati added: “We expect the formation of the government soon because the intentions of all parties are positive and in the interest of the nation.”

The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, visited Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday and said he presented Hariri with “ideas, and we will not lack the means or ideas to form a government.”

“There are ideas put forward to allow all parties to share the solution to the problem. We also discussed several ideas related to the formation of a government, and agreed that I would complete my contacts with the concerned parties and then communicate again.”

Abdul Rahim Murad, spokesman for six Hezbollah-allied Sunni MPs, said no one had contacted them yet about the suggested solutions. “I don’t think Hezbollah will relinquish its support for us,” he said.


Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 9 min 57 sec ago
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Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”