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French Version


Karami says new government will be formed by Saturday

Franjieh bows out of new cabinet lineup

The formation of the new government is expected to be announced by the end of the week, with the noticeable absence of outgoing Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh.

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In a statement issued by Franjieh's press office, the minister said he will not be taking part in the new government.

According to the statement, "While we wish Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami luck in forming his new Cabinet, we would like to explain that Franjieh will not be taking part in the new government."

Franjieh's statement came as Karami announced consultations for the new Cabinet will kick off as soon as the mourning period for the death of Pope John Paul II ends.

Karami added: "The formation of the new government will have to wait until Saturday. We cannot form the government while the country is in a state of mourning for the death of the pope."

Karami also said the opposition would not be taking part in the Cabinet.

He said: "We waited 20 days for them to take part, but they didn't want to. But we are holding talks with them to see who they deem appropriate candidates to represent them in the new Cabinet."

Ever since his re-appointment as premier, Karami has insisted that if he cannot form a government with opposition participation, he will resign.

But following a meeting of the loyalist Ain al-Tineh Gathering last Friday, Karami announced he would go on with forming the government despite earlier statements he would step down. During the meeting Speaker Nabih Berri had added the gathering would not accept any form of electoral law except that based on the mohafaza (medium-sized electoral district).

Prior to late Premier Rafik Hariri's murder February 14, a draft electoral law adopting the qada (small electoral districts) as an electoral district was presented to Parliament. However, it has yet to be discussed.

Minister of State Albert Mansour said following his meeting with Karami: "I know for sure the premier will try his best to form a government of reliable and honest politicians who are able to lay down a new electoral law and conduct the elections as soon as possible."

Baalbek-Hermel MP Ammar Musawi said Monday the awaited government would retrieve the draft electoral law from Parliament once it is formed, in order to present a new one based on the Taif Accord.

He said: "Adopting the mohafaza as an electoral district is a suggestion given in Taif. But we know there are some objections to this, and these objections will increase."

But the adoption of mohafazat might stir divisions in the country with most of the opposition refusing the proposal and calling for the adoption of qadas in which they would be better represented.

Following his meeting with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, Zahle MP Mohsen Dalloul accused the government of trying to postpone the elections.

He said: "The electoral law should be there to provide the right representation for voters. If the authorities think they can postpone the elections through meddling with the electoral draft law they are wrong."

He added: "Karami should discuss the current draft law as is, and Parliament is the only one that has the right to carry on any amendments. But they are trying to waste time in order to postpone the elections."

Beirut MP Michel Pharaon also met with Sfeir, and said after the meeting that most Lebanese were waiting for the elections to take place on time.

He said: "Around 95 percent of the Lebanese people are waiting for the elections to take place, and we hope the Constitution will not be breached again through extending the mandate of Parliament as they extended President Emile Lahoud's term."

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Beirut 05-04-2005
Majdoline Atoum
The Daily Star



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