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                                        Volume. 11945
Lebanese govt. must not drop resistance clause: Berri
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Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri says Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s cabinet runs the risk of losing its chance in the next few days if the March 14 coalition fails to make concessions over the resistance clause in the ministerial statement.
 
“The cabinet has until midnight Monday [March 17] to finalize its policy statement. We should exert all efforts to finalize the statement within this timeframe,” Berri told As-Safir newspaper in remarks published Wednesday. “If this deadline passes without the policy statement having been finalized, I will inform the president Tuesday morning that as far as I am concerned the cabinet has become a resigned one."
 
"We will not let go of any letter of this golden word [resistance],” Berri added.
 
Reports show that Prime Minister Tammam Salam could step down in the next few days if the committee drafting the government’s ministerial statement fails to complete its mission on time, a source close to Salam said Wednesday.
 
“If the dispute over the resistance clause is not resolved in the next two days, Salam might submit his resignation,” the source told The Daily Star.
 
Hanna Gharib, the head of the Union Coordination Committee, who met with the prime minister, quoted Salam as saying that he regrets “the way things turned out.”
 
“We came to work and to form a government that removes the country from the [power] vacuum, but things turned out differently from what I wanted and what the Lebanese people want,” Salam was quoted as saying.
 
Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas told Future TV he wasn’t sure if Salam would resign, but that he felt Salam "doesn’t want to get trapped in legal bickering."
 
Salam called a cabinet meeting at Baabda Palace Thursday to make an “appropriate decision” on the row over the resistance that is threatening to break up the Cabinet.
 
“Thursday’s cabinet session on the policy statement is crucial because it will subsequently decide its fate if no agreement is reached over the resistance issue,” a political source told The Daily Star Tuesday.
 
Derbas urged the Lebanese not to lose hope, adding that Thursday’s meeting aimed to untangle the knot over the resistance clause and so that everyone shares responsibility.
 
The March 8 and March 14 coalition appear to have reached a deadlock over how to address the issue of the resistance in the Cabinet’s policy statement.
 
Salam’s decision to convene the cabinet came shortly after the committee announced its failure Tuesday to reach consensus on the contentious clause.

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