Nahhas’ Successor to be Chosen Swiftly

Posted on: February 24, 2012 at 0:40:30
The resignation of Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas paved way for officials to avert a three-week cabinet crisis that had threatened the collapse of the government as the names of his successor were being speculated on Thursday.

“No candidate has been chosen yet, but it might happen in the upcoming few hours,” Free Patriotic Movement sources told An Nahar newspaper.

According to local newspapers, FPM leader MP Michel Aoun would either choose former director general at Baabda Palace Joseph Jreissati, Charles Jazra, Georges Nakhleh, Georges Haddad, Judge Arlette Jreissati, Akram Halabi, retired Major General Nadim Lteif, or Judge Alice Tawil.

Nahhas, who was loyal to Aoun, had created controversy over his refusal to sign a cabinet decision taken by the majority on the transportation and education allowances decree, which had put him at loggerheads with Prime Minister Najib Miqati and President Michel Suleiman.

However, the cabinet crisis began as a dispute between Miqati and FPM ministers on a decision taken by the premier concerning the appointment of top civil servants in the state for posts reserved for Christians.

Miqati told As Safir newspaper that “a minister will sign the transportation allowance decree, and a new page would be opened concerning the cabinet’s productive work.”

On Wednesday, Energy Minister Jebran Bassil, who is also loyal to Aoun, handed Miqati the resignation of Nahhas.

Miqati and Suleiman swiftly approved the labor minister’s resignation in a step expected to lead to the resumption of the cabinet sessions.

Suleiman signed on Thursday the decree of Nahhas' resignation.

“We hoped that Nahhas could’ve stayed with us,” Bassil told As Safir. His resignation is a big loss. But without legalizing the transportation allowance (decree)… and appointing top civil servants in the state… the country would lose more.”

Acting Labor Minister Nicolas Fattoush signed the controversial allowance decree before the parliamentary session kicked off on Thursday.

Al-Joumhouria daily said that Aoun was given guarantees that a draft law proposed by Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan would be approved by parliament.

The session on Wednesday adjourned the discussions of two urgent draft laws set to legalize the transportation allowance decree proposed separately by Kanaan and al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Nabil de Freij.

Miqati’s sources told al-Joumhouria that the cabinet sessions might remain suspended until mid-March due to the sharp differences between its members.
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