BEIRUT: The ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati agreed Wednesday night on the final draft of the new government’s policy statement after overcoming differences on an article dealing with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).
“The ministerial committee has completed its work and agreed on the policy statement that will be tabled during a Cabinet session at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda," Information Minister Walid Daouk said following the seventh meeting of the 12-member team tasked with drafting the ministerial statement.
After endorsement by Mikati’s 30-member Cabinet, the policy statement will go through a parliamentary review process and later be put to a vote of confidence next week.
Asked about the final formula for the article dealing with the controversial U.N.-backed court probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Daouk said: “The formula includes agreement by all parties and members of the ministerial committee. The final formula will be addressed in Cabinet.”
A political source told The Daily Star Wednesday that the article dealing with the STL would stress “Lebanon’s respect to international resolutions and the continuation of the tribunal process without harming Lebanon’s unity and stability.”
Earlier Wednesday, Mikati told reporters at the Grand Serail that contacts were ongoing with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Hezbollah and MP Walid Jumblatt “to reach a mutual formula” on the matter of the STL, the international court that caused a political crisis under Mikati’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a leading member of the March 14 coalition.
The issue of the U.N.-backed court also dragged Mikati’s efforts to finalize a ministerial statement near the committee’s one month deadline for drafting the document. Berri had cautioned earlier in the day that the new Cabinet would fall if the committee failed to draft the policy statement by July 13 deadline.
Mikati, under heavy pressure from the March 14 coalition, the United States and other Western countries to uphold the STL, told reporters Wednesday “Lebanon cannot exit from international legitimacy, especially given that it is a founding member of the United Nations and a member of the Security Council. However, we as Lebanese need to address all issues in a calm manner.”
The predominant March 8 Cabinet of Mikati was formed on June 13, almost five months after the collapse of Hariri’s national unity government. Hezbollah-backed March 8 ministers resigned from Saad Hariri's Cabinet in mid-January over his refusal to severe Lebanon’s ties with the international court which is widely believed to name members of Hezbollah in an indictment in the case.