Provocative Rhetoric


Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri met Wednesday with a delegation from the March 14 coalition which has remained steadfast to its decision to boycott government work at the legislative branch.

The meeting was reportedly aimed at discussing with Berri means to resume discussion on a draft electoral law outside the legislative branch of government.

The meeting comes after both Berri and March 14 politicians traded criticisms of each other’s behavior over the subject of the opposition’s boycott, which is avowedly aimed at pressuring the Cabinet to resign.

Berri has repeatedly slammed the opposition’s decision to boycott Parliament, arguing that there was a need to reactivate the work of the house and to resume discussion on stalled draft laws, particularly talks over a new electoral law for the 2013 elections.

Future MP Ammar Houri said Tuesday the opposition was ready to attend meetings of a parliamentary subcommittee tasked with studying proposals for an electoral law given that no Cabinet ministers would be present but said the meeting would have to be held outside of Parliament due to security concerns.

March 14 lawmakers have also proposed that the legislative meeting be held at Deputy Speaker Farid Makari’s residence out of fear for their security given abortive assassination attempts on two March 14 figures this year.

Media reports said Wednesday that Berri had voiced his preference that the meetings be held in Parliament and told the delegation that he too was the target of assassination.

Other lawmakers who met with Berri Wednesday quoted the speaker as having stressed the need for need for dialogue and urging politicians to abandon “provocative rhetoric.”

They said the speaker had stressed on the need for National Dialogue and that escalatory rhetoric would only strain the situation even further.

According to his visitors, he also voiced concern over the tense atmosphere and extremism prevailing in Lebanon and the region.

Some opposition parties have boycotted National Dialogue, which President Michel Sleiman has been calling for in order to resolve the government crisis following.

The campaign against Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his March 8-led Cabinet intensified following the Oct. 19 assassination of a top intelligence chief.

The March 14 alliance has accused the government of providing the necessary cover for the death of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan and blames Syrian President Bashar Assad of being behind the killing.

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