Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati does not want to arouse the anger of the military. He asked the cabinet’s general secretariat on Wednesday to take the necessary steps to implement a decree granting social assistance to members of the country’s security institutions.
This move may, however, further sour his relations with former president Michel Aoun’s camp, especially the caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim, who has been insisting that his 23 colleagues countersign the decree. Mikati officially overrode this condition yesterday.
In its controversial session on Dec. 5 — boycotted by ministers close to Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement — the cabinet approved the decree in question.
But the caretaker Defense minister amended it by adding “salary supplements” which, according to him, fall under the “fundamental rights of the military institutions’ members,” he told L’Orient-Le Jour in recent days.
Slim has pleaded for the decree in question to be countersigned by all members of the cabinet. He sets the same countersigning condition for the decree on the promotions of army officers, while caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi has already signed the decree formalizing the promotions of some Internal Security Forces personnel.
Slim’s position is in line with that of the FPM, which has taken the stance that when there is a presidential vacancy, it is the cabinet as a whole that exercises the prerogatives of the president, including the signing of decrees.
“The Defense minister clearly said to Najib Mikati that he agrees with the cabinet’s approach, but that his position was political,” a senior cabinet source told L’Orient-Le Jour, on condition of anonymity.
The source added that Slim — who met with Mikati on Tuesday — had signed a version of the decree stipulating that the text was approved upon the proposal of the defense and interior ministers, and not the cabinet.
“Najib Mikati, however, corrected the shot by specifying that it was the cabinet that adopted the decree during its meeting of Dec. 5,” said the senior cabinet source.
In the memo sent Wednesday to the cabinet’s general secretariat, Mikati said that Slim signed “a modified version of the decree adopted during the cabinet meeting,” concluding that he indeed gave his approval.
“In order not to delay the issuance of the decree adopted by the cabinet, the cabinet’s general secretariat is requested to make the necessary changes to the version signed by the Defense minister so that the decree is published, as adopted on Dec. 5, and enters into force,” added the text.
‘Let them file an invalidation recourse’
“The prime minister opted for a totally constitutional approach. He simply did not bring the signatures of the 24 ministers to the decree in question, as Slim wanted,” said the cabinet source.
“Let them file an invalidation recourse [before the State Shura Council] if they believe there is a breach of the Basic Law,” said a source close to Mikati, anticipating a reaction from the Aounist camp.
The FPM parliamentary bloc had criticized the decision to hold the Dec. 5 cabinet meeting, denouncing in a statement last week what it called “an unconstitutional session contrary to the National Pact,” stressing that it considers that “the session did not take place.”
A few days earlier, several FPM officials insinuated that they might appeal against the decisions taken by the cabinet during the presidential vacancy. Slim and other FPM officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Joelle El Khoury.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati does not want to arouse the anger of the military. He asked the cabinet’s general secretariat on Wednesday to take the necessary steps to implement a decree granting social assistance to members of the country’s security institutions.This move may, however, further sour his relations with former president Michel Aoun’s camp, especially the caretaker...