Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati strongly criticized the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) after they had chosen to “boycott Cabinet sessions without providing a logical explanation for their behavior.”

“The convening of the Cabinet and the continuation of government work is not a provocation to anyone, let alone a violation of the Pact, partnership, and the Constitution,” Mikati stated in his speech at the beginning of the Cabinet session on Friday.

Before the Cabinet session, FPM Head Gebran Bassil and Lebanese Forces Chief Samir Geagea had emphasized that the Cabinet meeting was unconstitutional.

Critiquing the FPM, Mikati stated, “What violates the Constitution and partnership is the deliberate obstruction, in its various forms, that has been going on for years, as well as the procrastination for personal interests.”

He affirmed that “what strikes a blow to the Constitution and partnership is abstaining from fulfilling one’s national and constitutional duty of electing a new head of state.” He described this practice as being adopted “by the party which deplores the presidential vacancy and causes the paralysis of the presidential election.” He added, “It is the same party that incites religious and political authorities against the government.”

Paradoxically, he noted that this exact party denounces holding Cabinet meetings while demanding that certain items be included on its agenda.

Turning to the Syrian refugees issue, Mikati highlighted that he had earlier held discussions with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Imran Riza, and he explained they have “agreed to develop a formula to advance this matter, taking into account the aspirations of the Lebanese state and the public interest.”

In response to the campaign against the government for allowing aid for Syrian refugees to be disbursed in foreign currencies, he emphasized that “in accordance with the agreement signed over ten years ago with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this aid can be provided in foreign currencies as well as in Lebanese pounds.” He further asserted that this campaign surprised him because neither the caretaker Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Hajjar, nor himself had agreed for the aid to be paid in dollars. Mikati specified that he will convene a Cabinet meeting dedicated to discussing the Syrian refugee file.

Finally, regarding the Riad Salameh case, Mikati informed Cabinet members that “the matter of the international arrest warrant against the Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh had been examined by the ministerial committee on Monday, and it was decided to entrust the follow-up to the Judiciary.”