Mikati casts his vote in Tripoli, says alliance with Future Movement clear as the rising sun

NNA - Former Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, exercised his voting right in the Tripoli parliamentary sub-elections at noon today at the Hassan al-Hajjeh public secondary school.

"Any democratic action is positive, and I think that the electoral process is going well," said Mikati after casting his vote.

"As for the voting percentage, these sub-elections are the 41st in Lebanon's modern history, and if we were to track the history of sub-elections in Lebanon, we would realize that the voting turn out is very low, unless competition exists between two teams, as was the case in 2007 between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Kataeb Party," Mikati explained.

Responding to a question about his new alliance with the Future Movement, Mikati said: "Politics is malleable, not rigid, and when we were in conflict, we had our reservations...Today, in wake of our consensus and our determination to address Tripoli's development needs and help it play its developmental role in the region, we have agreed to accord the government the opportunity over the next three years to give Tripoli what it deserves."

"The goal is not to win an additional parliamentary seat, although we have the ability to do so, but our main concern is the city first and foremost," added Mikati, confirming that his "alliance with the Future Movement is as clear as the light of the rising sun today."

On his message to the people of Tripoli, Mikati said: "We will continue to monitor the work of the government, which is our parliamentary role." However, he stressed that "the primary role is for the authority to give Tripoli what it deserves within the stipulated deadline; otherwise it would be at loss."

He also called on the opposition to "express their views in the ballot box, which is the beauty of democracy."

Mikati expressed satisfaction with the participation of "Al-Azem Movement" in the electoral process and its follow-up on electoral machines, noting, "The participation rate was 30 to 35 percent and I am pleased with the performance."

"Today we are all united, enough of fragmentation! Today all of us deputies will demand the state authority to carry out its role and we will hold it accountable," Mikati asserted, adding, "It is time for Tripoli!"

Hariri and Mikati call on Tripolitans to vote for the unity of the city

NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri visited Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Tripoli, with candidate Dima Jamali.

After the meeting, Mikati said: “The meeting with Prime Minister Hariri addressed the concerns of Tripoli, its importance and how it can play a key role in Lebanese politics, development and reconstruction. I confirmed that the step I took, the unity that we see today, is based on two things: supporting the premiership to preserve the balance in the country, and at the same time to have Tripoli in any future program because Tripoli is the basis for supporting the premiership.

In the next 48 hours, we will have a by-election in Tripoli. We ask our people to vote for this unity, which is the source of confidence and happiness for all citizens.”

Hariri said: “It is an honor for me to be among you today, and with you, especially since we have the by-election. All of us stand together in favor of Tripoli and Dima. We all have to vote for Dima Jamali, so that we can work for Tripoli.

There is no doubt that over the past years there have been political divisions between me and PM Mikati. This caused a delay in many things in the country, in addition to the divisions that were taking place in all of Lebanon. Today we decided to support the institutions, restore political work, and work together to advance the country. There are major challenges waiting for us. Lebanon needs the cooperation of all the parties so we can get out of the economic and financial crisis. We must also take basic reformative measures to encourage the world to return to Lebanon and invest.”

He added: “As for the development of Tripoli and the North, it is essential in CEDRE. We heard in the past days talks about the share of Tripoli and the North from the CEDRE Conference. Tripoli is part of Lebanon so when we put all the projects on the table and worked with the World Bank, we dedicated project to all of Lebanon. If we think that people will come and invest in our country without real reform and real austerity to prevent corruption, we are wrong, and no one will come to us to invest. On the issue of the economic zone, I do not want to speak with sectarian or doctrinal logic. In every world, in any country, there is one economic zone, and it is based on economic feasibility. If the economic zone existed today in Tyre, for example, Batroun or anywhere else, I, Saad Hariri or PM Mikati, would not allow ourselves to establish other economic zones because it is useless. The problem today is that, because there is an economic zone in Tripoli, some want to establish an economic zone in another area. In the end, instead of doing good for the country, we are spending money that is of no use to the region or Lebanon. It is true that this economic zone is in Tripoli, but it benefits all of Lebanon. There is no region in Lebanon that will not benefit from the economic zone in Tripoli. There are industrial zones that we approved in the Council of Ministers in the Bekaa, Akkar and other regions. We have to invest in these zones and increase their number, because they really benefit the Lebanese citizens and industrialists and create jobs. It is time, after the enactment of the PPP law, to implement it in all regions, for example, the Rashid Karami fair, one of the most beautiful areas where investment can take place. I would like to say that in order to have an investment in Tripoli, there should be political stability, and that is what is happening. Therefore, we have taken a decision, PM Mikati, the other leaders and I, to continue in this path together, because it is the only way to benefit Tripoli.”

Question: What do you say to all those who say that you only visit Tripoli before elections? And that you make development promises and don’t implement them?

Hariri: It took us nine months to form the government, and even if I visited Tripoli in this period, I could not have set up projects. This government is barely two months old.

If the government had been formed a month after the elections, believe me, you would have seen me a lot more in Tripoli, and there would have been more projects for the city. But we still have three years, and you will see Saad Hariri in Tripoli, Tyre, Baalbek, Hermel, the Western Bekaa, Minyeh, Denniyeh and Zghorta.

Question: What do you say to citizens who do not want to vote?

Hariri: I would like to say one thing. The Lebanese citizen must realize the value of his vote. Look at what happened in the Arab world and the Arab Spring. I say to every Lebanese citizen and Tripolitan, if

Saad Hariri cannot accomplish what he promised, do not vote for him. But vote, because that's what changes the country and political life. After the death of my father, there was a sharp division in the country, and we did not talk to each other. Today, we hear each other and work together. There are still serious political differences, on the regional issue for example, and Hezbollah and I cannot meet regionally on the same political principle. But this does not mean that the Lebanese citizen should pay the price, and we have agreed with the other parties to put these things aside, and to focus on the interest of the Lebanese citizen.

Question: Are you afraid that this alliance would be political without being translated in the ballots?

Hariri: I am not afraid of that, but I say frankly: There is no doubt that the relationship between me and PM Mikati has passed through difficult stages, as happened with Major General Ashraf Rifi, but this is normal in politics, and one has to have the courage to look at the interests of the country, the interest of the citizen, and the interest of politics. PM Mikati certainly has his political ambition, and this is his political right and this is democracy. We all change and we all learn from our mistakes, and it is important not to repeat our mistakes and work for the sake of the country.

Question: Will Dima Jamali be elected again?

Hariri: This is what we want, and we hope that the people of Tripoli will understand the importance of this battle and that all we want is the interest of Tripoli.

Mikati held a lunch in honor of Hariri in the presence of figures from Tripoli.

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The Ministerial Statement of PM Mikati’s Cabinet
Monday, Jul 04, 2011

The Ministerial Statement of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet

30-June-2011

 

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

We hope that our Government represented in front of your esteemed Assembly will be able to work (through the confidence it will obtain from the representatives of the Lebanese people), in team solidarity, for Lebanon to be able to continue confronting the diverse challenges that lie before us, in order to preserve to country’s unity, security and stability.However, the persistence of this coping ability requires a collective national act on different levels in accordance with our government’s motto “all for the country…all for work” that we are committed in front of your esteemed assembly to fulfill. 

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

Our government is committed to the full implementation of the constitution and the Taef agreement. The mission of our government is to rebuild trust and solidarity among the Lebanese, which will consolidate the national unity and coexistence and enable Lebanon to rise through its constitutional institutions.

Knowing that our government believes in the importance of national partnership that represents equal rights and responsibilities, the cabinet is committed to attain social justice and sustainable development in all the regions through comprehensive developmental & Economic plans and financing program since we consider such programs necessary for the consolidation and protection of our national accord and that supports the eradication of any discrimination among all Lebanese, and ensures the achievement of national stability.

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

1. The government emphasizes its adherence to the principle of the state's unity and referential status in all matters concerning the country's public policy so as to preserve Lebanon and its national sovereignty. These pillars, along with the constitution are the guidelines that will inspire our government to consolidate civil peace and prevent any form of manipulation in civil peace and security. This mission of preventing any form of manipulation in civil peace and security is the responsibility of legitimate National Army and the National security sources alone, and no other armaments will share this responsibility with the legitimate (National Army and National Security Sources) arms. Therefore, the cabinet commits to maintain its support to the National Army and Security Sources as well as to provide their equipment to be able to fulfill their tasks in protecting the Lebanese from threats and to fighting chaos, terrorism, and crimes while respecting constitutional liberties.

2. The government is committed to work on ending Israeli occupation to remaining Lebanese occupied territories; in addition to ending Israeli aggressive practices and spying operations that violates Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The government adheres to the right of Lebanon through its people, army and Resistance to liberate and retrieve the Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba Hills and the Lebanese part of the Ghajar Village, as well as to defend Lebanon in confronting any aggression through all legitimate and accessible means and to hold on to its right to use its water and oil resources and to consolidate its maritime borders. The government will persists on working through national dialogue in order to unify Lebanese position concerning a national and comprehensive strategy to protecting and defending Lebanon.

3. The government also confirms its commitment to the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 in all its articles and appeal to on the United Nations to stop permanent Israeli violations and threats of Lebanon's territorial integrity and sovereignty in order to fulfill the implementation of the resolution and move from stopping aggressive actions to reaching permanent cease fire. Moreover, the government stresses on the permanent cooperation between the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL in its assigned missions, taking in to account, the positive relationship between Southern Lebanese and UNIFIL and the high appreciation for UNIFIL sacrifices by all Lebanese.   The Government will abide to truce according to the Taef agreement and will request compensations regarding Israeli continuous aggressions.

4. On the Arab level, our government will work on strengthening Arab solidarity away from politicization, and emphasize our faith in the necessity of joint Arab action within the Arab League. The government is keen to emphasize its gratitude for the political and economic support of Arab states. Lebanon is looking forward to the continuation of this support as it is a source of strength for it.

5. The government recognizes the development of Lebanese-Syrian relations to the level assumed by historic ties and joint interests between the people and the countries as stipulated in the Taif Accord. The government finds the exchange of diplomatic representation to be a step forward in that direction, which would lay the foundation to address joint causes and will continue to work on the implementation of joined agreements  and  finding solutions to issues that both countries agree upon and that are still pending.

6. The government commits to following up on the issue of missing Lebanese nationals and detainees in Syria, and is determined to do everything required in order to resolve this issue and end the suffering of their families.

7. The government will facilitate the issue of the return of Lebanese who are in Israel in accordance with the laws and regulations.

8. The government will also pursue Lebanon's adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Forced Disappearance. The government will therefore establish a national committee that will follow up on all issues regarding this matter. 

9. The cabinet will follow up on the issue of the disappearance of his Eminence Imam Moussa al-Sadr and his two companions, Sheikh Mohammed Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badr al-Din in Libya. The government also stresses the need to speed up the completion of the Judicial Council’s work and take national and international actions imposed by the laws in force to prosecute the criminals behind it.

10. The government will seek to strengthen Lebanon's fraternal relations with friendly countries. It highlights in this context the importance it attaches to deepening its relations with the European Union, international institutions and organizations in the context of cooperation, mutual respect and openness. Our government is reiterating its will to continue implementing bilateral and multilateral agreements including the cooperation programs between Lebanon, friendly countries, international organizations and institutions, that will serve the high interest of Lebanon according to the constitution. 

11. Knowing the fact that the government is committed to respect international resolutions, our government is determent to stimulate Lebanon’s presence in the UN and the international Security Council (in accordance with the non-permanent membership for this whole year). This will enable Lebanon to defend its rights and just issues especially the issue of Palestine in confronting Israeli aggressions including occupation of Lebanese and Syrian territories and Israeli violation of international laws. 

12. The government abides by the UN conventions, and is attached to the principles of international law and UN resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian people's national rights, including Resolution 194 that concerns the General Assembly. In this context, the government emphasizes its commitment to the provisions of the Constitution, and reiterates its call for the Palestinians' right to return to their homes and its adamant rejection of the Palestinians' naturalization in Lebanon. The government renews its commitment to the Arab peace initiative, which was adopted by the Beirut Arab Summit in 2002. The government will pursue its work in ensuring the human and social rights of Palestinians living on Lebanese soil and in asking states and international organizations to be aware of its duty toward them and the government will request an increase in UNRWA’s budget in order for it to be able to implement its mandate. The government will continue its follow up on the rebuilding of Nahr al-Bared camp, and work on improving the status of other camps.

13. The Government emphasizes on the importance of national dialogue as a need to resolve the political conflicts and to develop the culture of dialogue among the Lebanese. Our government is also concerned in the fulfillment of the national duologue resolution related to ending armed Palestinian presence outside the camps and tackling the issue of security and weapons inside the camps while stressing on the fact that the protection and security of the Palestinians living in the camps is the responsibility of the government alone. 

14. Knowing that our government respects international resolutions, the government is keen to reveal and expose the truth regarding the crime of the assassination of Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and his companions. The government will follow the track of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that has been established in principle to prevail truth and justice away from any politicization or revenge in respect of avoiding any negative impact on Lebanon’s stability, unity and civil peace. 

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

15. It will be one of the priorities of this government to launch a national workshop to prepare a new parliamentary election law that is appropriate and will fit the aspirations of Lebanese to achieve true and fair political representation. The reform programs that were put forward in the past and which covered a variety of options and reforms as well as proportional representation shall undergo thorough study and the government will work to speed up the necessary steps … in order for the law to be implemented within a timeframe of no more than one year from the date of the 2013 parliamentary polls.

16. The government shall work to revive diplomatic efforts abroad in order to connect with expatriates and work to organize expatriate committees and unify them. The government shall monitor the implementation of laws and decisions by the State Shura Council which deal with issues related to nationality and the government encourages Lebanese to reclaim nationality. The government will take steps and offer the necessary assistance to encourage Lebanese spread globally to register themselves at Lebanese embassies and consuls.

17. The government is committed to putting in place a draft law for expanded administrative decentralization that can develop regions in Lebanon economically and socially. The government will work to rectify the situation of independent municipality funding and search for appropriate solutions to revenue problems for municipalities.

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

18. Our government considers the independent judiciary as the [institution] that protects all citizens. Therefore, the Cabinet is keen to revive internal trust within this legal body, as well as the trust of the people in it. The government will coordinate with Parliament in order to boost the financial situation of judges. The government will also prevent interference in judicial work and allow judges to carry out their duties in order to apprehend corrupt individuals. The Cabinet will increase the number of judges and speed up legal procedures and decrease periods of detention without charge. It will implement the five-point plan to transfer authority over prisons to the Justice Ministry.

19. The government will place great importance on social welfare projects based on social rights, especially for low-income families as soon as possible. The government will also place importance on those with special needs and ensure their rights through implementing law 2000/220 and ratify international agreements related to people with special needs.

20. The government will pursue a health reform plan, including the introduction of medical cards, the improvement of public hospitals and strengthening the role of health institutions in all regions.

21. Our government will revive the work of the Economic and Social Council so that the body can successfully carry out its duties in full.

22. Knowing very well the needs of the administration, this government will continue with the employment mechanism that was used previously in the Parliament, especially for grade A jobs based on competency and qualifications. The government will work to eliminate corruption and strengthen the regulatory bodies especially in the accounting council and the investigative center. This government will do this in order to enable it to carry out its mission in terms of accountability, inquiry and monitoring.

23. Given the government’s keenness in matters dealing with education, as this relates with future youth generations that seek to assist in building the future of their nation through the acquisition of knowledge and specialization, which we do not wish to see as means for them to go abroad this government will work toward significant progress in education development in order to meet the increasing advancements in different educational fields and the growing needs of the job market. The public schools and the national university will be of great concern academically, administratively, and financially. The government will help ensure the development of the Lebanese University and maintain its independence. Forming the university council will be one of our main priorities.

24. As for the cultural field, the government will create the national library, continue building public libraries and cultural institutions that encourage talents and protect their rights, and protect cultural properties from theft and illegal trade.

25. We have great hope in our youth since they are the main players in development. The government will work on implementing a national youth policy to meet their needs and ambitions and provide them with the necessary services. The government will also encourage anti-drug projects and punish drug promoters and dealers.

26. The government will meet athletic needs through maintaining sports institutions and strengthening the role of special needs athletes in sports.

27. As for the issue of the displaced, our government hopes to finalize all issues related including guaranteeing the return of some, developing affected areas [of the country], and providing job opportunities through necessary funding. The government will continue paying compensation for those harmed by the July 2006 war.

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

28. Given the deteriorating growth rates in Lebanon following the regional and international economic developments, it is our priority to strengthen growth and limit the budget deficit in the treasury.

The government will reduce expenses, improve the country's revenues, and balance its debt to ensure economic and socio-economic equality. We affirm that a sound financial system is key to strong, long-term economic development. The government will resort to different procedural and legislative means to stimulate economic activity, particularly in the private sector, to ensure the basic components of the country's growth.

The priorities of the Finance Ministry are to:

1. Finalize the 2012 budget based on financial principles
2. Cut down on expenses and carry out audits of the government's accounts
3. Decrease the national debt and adjust the government’s services based on national revenue, given the importance of the revenue as an indicator of the public debt
4. Take advantage of the country's oil and water resources and public and maritime properties.
5. Introduce structural reforms in the tax system
6. Build the ministry's capacity and improve its performance, especially within the directorate of public debt and the Finance Ministry

Since the weak financial structure is is one of the most important obstacles mentioned, and due to the need for its rehabilitation and development, the government will work hard to the launch an investment program for spending in key sectors such as electricity, water and public transport, taking into consideration the overall plan for arranging lands, and securing funding required. The Government stresses on the use of the private sector experience to benefit from its abilities in administration and finance, and this will be through the completion of the draft law of partnership between the public and private sectors, that the government will work on obtaining the Parliament’s approval on and ensuring the organization of the partnership on the basis of peaceful tradeoffs.

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

29. Our government will set the electricity sector as a priority and will work to implement the 2010 reform plan in a bid to improve the sector, stabilize electricity supply, and balance the finances of Electricite du Liban after estimating its cost and manpower requirements, and achieve this in a way that is not too costly for the country’s economy and citizens.

30. The government will set and execute the national strategic plan for the water sector, based on efficient administration by the Energy and Water Ministry, including the improvement of sanitation, water dams and the launch of a number of these dams in 2011, and prepare the ministry with resources both financial and human to implement this long-term strategy.

31. In the oil sector, the government will follow an oil policy to transform Lebanon from a consumer of fuel to a producer of a diversity of resources. We will begin by distributing exploration and drilling licenses in Lebanese territories at the end of 2011 following the issuance of necessary decrees. This requires the completion of oil exploration procedures and the demarcation of Lebanon’s maritime borders. The government will also implement a plan to store and refine oil and link Lebanon to oil and gas grids of the region through building a natural gas pipeline and a liquefied gas station in 2011. They will also implement the alternative implement alternative energy, especially gas, in the fields of transportation, industry, electricity, and domestic use to decrease costs.

32. In the field of agriculture, the government will improve the sector, considering it a key economic sector to generate jobs in rural areas and to provide food safety and security and ecological balance. The government will also continue to develop the sector and its infrastructure and strengthen oversight and checks. The government will take the necessary measures to promote agricultural exports and strengthen agricultural institutions and preserve natural resources, especially water.

33. Based on article 431, the government will implement regulations that will revive the economic side of the telecommunications sector by attracting investment and bringing in new technologies. The ministry will resolve any standing disputes and clarify related decrees and develop them. The government will also increase manpower and qualifications in the ministry and OGERO and it will set clear guidelines to better organize the workflow between the ministry and OGERO to handle investment, new technologies, protect Lebanese networks and national security. It will continue to work on the telecommunications infrastructure and better equip it through providing it with the necessary funding and manpower.

34. Industry sector: the government is committed to developing laws and institutions able to assist the sector. It will also create a committee to administer industrial centers and look for industrial zones. It will work to secure alternative energy and provide the sector with low-priced goods and services. The government will encourage exhibitions to promote Lebanese products and supply the sector with needed academic and professional capabilities.

35. The government will place great importance on the transportation sector through achieving steps, mainly finalizing the discussion over the sector’s policy and implement it. The government will focus on the transportation sector by continuing the plan to improve roads and execute new road projects in collaboration with the public and private sector. It will work on securing public transport for passengers to all regions in the private and public sector. It will also restore the railway network and find a solution to the problem of traffic by implementing a comprehensive infrastructure plan taking into consideration recommendations from the comprehensive plan to rearrange territories. In terms of marine transportation the government will work on improving and developing the infrastructure for trade ports which would secure best services and achieve the needs of the private sector to use the Lebanese ports for their logistics services so that it could become a point of departure to the Arab and European regions. It will improve the port of Tripoli so that it will be able to receive more shipments and revive maritime tourism on the Lebanese coast. As for air transportations, the government will work on reopening the airport of Rene Mouwad in Kleyaat and to develop the work in the Rafik Hariri International Airport.

36. The government will better the quality of services in health and social institutions and work on a new measure for nationwide healthcare coverage and social security. It will also take measures to control costs and end waste. The government will improve the work of the National Social Security Fund and intends on passing the law related to retirement and social security after the necessary amendments.

37. The government will be committed to reviving the role of the Environment Ministry and reevaluating its powers to implement regulations that will protect the environment. It will also spread environmental awareness that will preserve Lebanon’s natural resources. The government will work on cooperation with NGOs and regional institutions related to environmental development. It will strengthen the relationship between international companies to improve investment in the sector. It will execute policies and plans related to waste and quarries and to increase Lebanon’s forestation through a national strategy to manage its response to forest fires and protect national reservations.

38. Since the tourism sector is one of the most important sectors for economic development, the government will do its best to develop the sector and improve it in all regions. It will encourage the creation of more conferences and exhibitions, attract new tourists, provide competitively-priced services and develop the port of Jounieh to receive tourist ships. The government will revive the national council for tourism development and the higher committee for tourism.

39. The government will reevaluate regulations that govern the printed and audiovisual media through necessary up-to-date amendments. It is also necessary to implement a plan to revive the public media and revive the work of the higher council for media after restructuring.

40. Our government is committed to strengthening the role of women in life in cooperation with the specific women’s organizations based on international agreements including eliminating all kinds of discrimination against women through necessary decrees. It will also strengthen the role of women in administrative and official institutions especially in leadership positions.

41. The government will cooperate with NGOs to strengthen its role in national dialogue on political, economic and social issues in Lebanon.

42. The government will also work with unions and labor confederations to resolve social and economic problems to reach social security and political stability.

43. The government will establish a better relationship with the legislative branch through the ministry of parliamentary affairs and work on separating and balancing the world of the different branches according to the constitution and the national covenant.


Conclusion:

Your Excellency,

Respectful MPs,

The Lebanese are exhausted from words and are looking for actions, and this is what we are promising your esteemed Assembly today, who we look forward to cooperating with and in following up on the legislative work, supervision and accountability.This government (is a national team that) will go beyond its differences and work together to accomplish its mission, and face the challenges encountering Lebanon and our government commits to be faithful to the Lebanese expectations and aspirations.

Your Excellency, and fellow MPs, our cabinet, the cabinet of actions and not words, looks forward to the cooperation of your parliament and based on this Ministerial Statement requests your vote of confidence.

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