Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Thursday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Developments in Syria “could cancel” Pope’s visit in September
“Disassociation” [sucks the air out] of Arsal
Syrian regime forces violate Lebanese sovereignty once again, this time in the Bekaa border town of Arsal while the absent government disassociates itself from violations of the dignity of citizens. The government seems to be in a race against time to evade public appointments and the distribution of grants, taking advantage of the delay in approving the 2012 state budget.
An announcement Wednesday by the Vatican said the planned visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon, scheduled for Sept. 14-16, "may be canceled” as it is fraught with risk because of the developments in the Syria crisis and their impact on Lebanon.
Cabinet to discuss budget, [ongoing] dispute over appointments
The Cabinet will hold a meeting at 4:00 p.m. Thursday after having postponed its session by one day due to Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi’s illness.
Discussions will focus on how to allocate funds as part of a LL10 trillion budget to ministries.
The Cabinet will also discuss the issue of contract workers at Electricite du Liban which will be raised by Energy Minister Gebran Bassil.
Government to approve 2012 spending today
Sleiman: Baabda Declaration a [national] covenant
A single item will top Cabinet’s agenda Thursday – advance funds to cover the expenses of 2012, amid expectations that the issue will be resolved during today’s meeting.
Meanwhile, President Michel Sleiman seemed to be seeking to turn the “Baabda Declaration” into a National Covenant that goes beyond the traditional closing statement at Monday’s National Dialogue.
Issue of EDL contract workers threatens majority’s unity
Although an understanding has been reached to activate the work of the government and turn the page on disputes among its components, it seems that the issue of EDL part-time workers will be a serious point of contention. This time, the disagreement will be between the Change and Reform Bloc and its allies – not the prime minister – over Bassil’s insistence on his stance regarding this issue.
Al-Akhbar has learned that Energy Minister Gebran Bassil will not back down from his position on the number of part-timers who are entitled to become permanent employees.
Bassil’s position enjoys the full support of head of the Change and Reform bloc Gen. Michel Aoun.