13 April 2005
Rice Calls Karami Resignation "Opportunity to Move Forward"
Secretary urges Lebanon to hold legislative elections in May, as scheduled
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice characterized the April 13 resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami as “an opportunity to move forward” and urged Lebanese officials to tend to the business of forming a new government and to hold legislative elections on schedule.
“We urge that the will of the Lebanese people be respected; specifically, that a new government be formed as quickly as possible and that parliamentary elections be held by the end of May,” Rice said in a statement released shortly after Karami’s announcement.
This is the second time that Karami has resigned from the post of prime minister in the past two months. He resigned February 28 in the face of massive street demonstrations by the Lebanese opposition following the February 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Karami was reappointed to the post and given the task of forming a transitional government to serve until parliamentary elections, which are supposed to be held before the parliament’s four-year term expires May 31. He resigned April 13, saying that his consultations to form a government had reached a dead end.
Rice said, “We expect the consultative process required to form a new Cabinet will take place immediately.”
It will be necessary for the parliament to overcome this impasse before elections can be held. According to the Lebanese constitution, the parliament must announce a polling date one month before elections take place. In addition, the new Cabinet will have to draft an electoral law and make arrangements to supervise the polling.
Rice urged Lebanese legislators to move the process forward in the best interest of the country.
“The Lebanese people deserve a government capable of leading them forward and ensuring their future security, stability, and economic prosperity,” she said.
Following is the text of Rice’s statement:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Resignation Of Prime Minister Karami
Today's resignation of Prime Minister Karami presents an opportunity to move forward. We urge that the will of the Lebanese people be respected; specifically, that a new government be formed as quickly as possible and that parliamentary elections be held by the end of May. Further delays are unnecessary. Lebanon must be allowed to determine its own future, free of intimidation and all foreign interference. The Lebanese people deserve a government capable of leading them forward and ensuring their future security, stability, and economic prosperity.
We expect the consultative process required to form a new cabinet will take place immediately.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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