By Nafez Qawas , BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said Monday that any discriminatory procedures which may harass the Lebanese ought to be condemned and criticized. In the wake of a botched Christmas Day bid to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest airliner, the United States decided to tighten security measures for airline passengers traveling from Lebanon and 13 other countries. The president reiterated Lebanon’s keenness on the freedom of the press in the face of any decision that may ban TV channels, including Lebanese ones, from satellite broadcasting. The US is currently examining the possibility of imposing sanctions on TV stations regarded as “hostile” to the US.  The US draft law monitored a number of Arab satellite channel broadcasts which it considered an, “incitement to violence against the United States and against Americans,” including Hizbullah affiliated Al-Manar TV. 

Sleiman told members of foreign and Arab diplomatic bodies gathered at the Baabda Presidential Palace on Tuesday that Lebanon’s diplomatic, political, security and economic accomplishments in 2009 paved the way for positive developments in the future. He added that 2009 was better than previous years for the country.  Sleiman mentioned the “free democratic elections” on June 7 and the formation of the national-unity Cabinet, the stability of state institutions despite the international financial crisis and the disbanding of Israeli espionage networks as some of Lebanon’s achievements in 2009.  Sleiman said the state will now focus its efforts on rebuilding institutions, and reforming its public sector and laws.  He added that “Lebanon, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, will encourage diplomatic solutions that take the people’s interests into consideration.”  The president asserted that Lebanon “has the right to liberate the rest of its occupied territory through all available means,” while remaining committed to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which put an end to the summer 2006 war with Israel. 

Sleiman called for applying “appropriate means of pressure” to find a fair resolution to the Middle East crisis, in line with international resolutions and within a specific time frame. 

In other news, the issue of administrative appointments is expected to be the main focus of a meeting in Baabda gathering President Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. 

Also on Wednesday, Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to hold a news conference at 2:30 pm at the Parliament to urge the formation of a national committee to abolish political sectarianism in Lebanon. 

Development and Liberation bloc MP Michel Moussa told MTV on Tuesday that Speaker Berri might discuss the cabinet’s upcoming administrative appointments during his news conference on Wednesday.” He added that Berri would not withdraw his proposal to form a judicial committee to filter the names of candidates. 

He also voiced hope that the appointments would take place “in an atmosphere of understanding” between parties. 

According to Moussa, consensus democracy should not be applied at the expense of people’s qualifications. 

Meanwhile, following talks with the speaker, Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar said he and Berri discussed the Cabinet’s upcoming administrative appointments, political reconciliations as well as issues related to the Justice Ministry. 

“Speaker Berri is a former justice minister and it is important to survey his view on various judiciary-related issues,” Najjar told reporters. 

Najjar also reiterated that the administrative appointments are not linked to the judiciary, which, he said is a body completely independent from the Cabinet.