BEIRUT — A cabinet session that was supposed to take place on Monday to discuss informal crossings by Syrian nationals into Lebanon was replaced by a consultative session on Monday due to a loss of quorum, the state-run National News Agency reported.
A majority of two-thirds of the ministers need to be present for a cabinet meeting to take place.
The session was supposed to discuss updates about Syrian migrants, amid claims by the Lebanese Army in recent weeks that it has thwarted thousands of attempted informal entries by Syrians into Lebanese territory.
After the quorum was lost, caretaker Prime Minister Mikati invited the attending ministers and leaders of the security services to a consultative session in his office.
"I regret that some ministers did not attend the session, especially those who have been screaming all day with positions on the [migrants issue]," Mikati said after the loss of quorum.
Mikati stressed that the caretaker cabinet "has never been late from taking the appropriate decision in this file." He added that "the army and the other security services are carrying out their duties related to this issue, but what is required is to take a national unified position on how to approach this case, especially the new displacement of hundreds of Syrians."
Ministers close to the Free Patriotic Movement(FPM) have been boycotting the cabinet's meetings during the presidential vacuum as they believe that Mikati aims to take on certain presidential powers.
Those missing at Monday's meeting were caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury, caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim, caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad and caretaker Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar.
In addition, caretaker Tourism Minister Walid Nassar, caretaker Agriculture Minister Abbas Hajj Hassan and caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin formally apologized ahead of the meeting for their absence.
In the past few weeks, the Lebanese Army announced that it prevented thousands of Syrian migrants from informally entering Lebanese territories, often via people smuggling networks. Officials in Lebanon say Syrians have again been pushed to flee due to deteriorating socioeconomic conditions in Syria.
The Lebanese government regularly calls for the repatriation of Syrian migrants and several ministers recently visited Damascus to discuss the issue.
According to official estimates, Lebanon is host to two million Syrian migrants, of whom some 830,000 are registered refugees with the UN.