Cabinet Postpones Janna Dam Debate as Kataeb Ministers Walk Out over Waste File

The cabinet met on Thursday and decided to postpone the discussions on the thorny file of the Janna Valley dam until the next session, Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam who reiterated the necessity to elect a president “because vacuum is reflecting on the state institutions, the parliament and cabinet, and harms national interest” he was quoted as saying.

“Discussions touched on the Janna dam which was postponed to the next session,” said Jreij.

Two ministers, Labor Sejaan Qazzi and Economy and Trade Alain Hakim, withdrew from the meeting over conflicts on the waste management file, added Jreij.

Hakim noted that his remarks on the waste management file were not taken into consideration.

Ahead of the session, MP Nabil De Freige told the Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3): “Each dam project which has two contradictory studies must take a third opinion, meaning the World Bank. There is decision to form a committee to receive the projects of municipalities on the waste management.”

For his part, Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq stated: “I hope we don’t have to resort to an international reference to agree on the Janna dam. The Ministry of Energy must study the environmental consequences.”

Culture Minister Roni Araiji noted: “We asked for an objective approach from an environmental perspective regarding the Janna dam away from political bickering.”

Reports have said earlier that the cabinet will convene to continue the discussions on the Janna dam and the waste management file, amid anticipations that the interlocutors will fail to reach a solution because of the adamant stances of each party, al-Joumhouria daily reported.

“The cabinet will begin the meeting with discussions on the Janna dam. They will not be able to reach a solution because the contacts to solve the issue made each party adhere more to its own stances,” sources close to PM Tammam Salam told the daily.

“It seems there is already a decision not to be convinced and to maintain the confrontation,” they added.

The sources did not pin high hopes on an outcome for the thorny files, because “of the absence of solutions for all pending files. Adding to the Janna dam are the waste and State Secuity issues.”

“The obstruction inside the cabinet falls under the same context of the deliberate obstruction of the state which is caused by the absence of a president,” they added.

Last week’s cabinet meeting, the rival ministers traded jabs over the Janna dam project, some describing it as an environmental threat and others as a developmental and economic project that the country needs.

On the other hand, the State Security file may not be discussed during today’s session.

Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon said that it has been given to PM Salam to tackle and that he vowed to find a solution for the agency’s budget and the differences between its director Major General George Qaraa and his deputy Brigadier General Mohammed al-Tufaili.