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Lebanon: Hariri’s Cabinet Wins Vote of Confidence

Lebanon: Hariri’s Cabinet Wins Vote of Confidence

Saturday, 16 February, 2019 - 05:45
FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is seen during the meeting to discuss a draft policy statement at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanon's parliament gave Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government the green light to start working with a vote of confidence on Friday after televised sessions that included heated debates.

Late Friday, 111 legislators voted in favor while six voted against of the 128-member legislature. Eleven were absent.

Votes of no confidence came from the Kataeb party’s three MPs, in addition to lawmakers Paula Yacoubian, Jamil al-Sayyed and Osama Saad.

Hariri, who began the meetings Tuesday by reading his cabinet’s policy statement, said the government will prioritize economic reforms needed to bring Lebanon's massive public debt under control.

“We promise you that all our work will be to achieve economic revitalization so you may have a dignified life in your country,” the PM said ahead of the vote.

The government was agreed this month following a nine-month wrangling over the make-up of the cabinet.

The reforms the government plans to pursue could be "difficult and painful", but are required to avoid a worsening of economic, financial and social conditions, its policy statement said.

The cabinet has pledged a "financial correction" equal to at least one percent of GDP a year over five years, starting with this year's budget.

This would be achieved by boosting revenues and cutting spending, starting with transfers to the state-run power company, which the World Bank has said represents a "staggering burden" on public finances.

Late Friday’s vote of confidence capped off a tumultuous week at the legislature which saw harsh verbal exchanges. Shortly after the last session opened, the leader of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, apologized on behalf of his bloc for lawmaker Nawaf Mousawi’s controversial comments at Wednesday’s session about slain former President-elect Bashir Gemayel.

A war of words erupted between Mousawi and Kataeb MPs after the lawmaker said he was proud that President Michel “Aoun was brought to the presidency by the rifle of Hezbollah and not on the back of an Israeli tank like others.” This was in reference to Bashir Gemayel.

Mousawi made the remark after a heated dispute with Kataeb lawmakers Nadim and Sami Gemayel over Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon.

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