Lebanon Prime Minister Salam - Strong state and president needed to confront extremism
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanon must fortify the state and end the power void if it wants to successfully combat extremist violence, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Wednesday.
"We should end the existing imbalances and quickly elect a head of state," Salam said at the opening of a consultation meeting on a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism at the Grand Serail.
Strengthening the state, he said, would require restoring “democratic mechanisms that allow accountability,” forming a renewed political elite and “staging parliamentary elections based on a new electoral law that guarantees fair representation.”
Salam added the Constitution was the "sole guarantor of the delicate national balances that emerges from the National Charter," urging rival groups to "stop wasting time searching for other concepts."
The PM's remarks come as an indirect response to Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, who had decided, along with Education Minister Elias Bou Saab and Tashnag Party Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, to boycott Cabinet sessions last month over their opposition to the extension of senior military officials’ terms.
The speaker had indefinitely suspended national dialogue sessions last week after head of the FPM Gebran Bassil threatened to boycott the talks. Bassil was frustrated with the interlocutors’ failure to address the party’s growing concerns about the implementation of the National Charter, which says that power must be shared equally between Muslims and Christians.
Salam also hailed efforts by the Lebanese Army and all security agencies to combat extremism, which have prevented a number of attacks.