Berri Unleashes Last -Minute Effort on Eve of Cabinet Meeting

Speaker Nabih Berri has unleashed a last-minute effort to reach a compromise on the false witnesses' issue, his political aide Ali Hasan Khalil announced.

Khalil, in remarks published Tuesday by the daily An-Nahar, said Berri was working in his capacity as a political leader in the Opposition camp.

He said Berri is seeking to put an end to the political divide over the false witnesses' issue in order to reach an understanding and avoid a vote in Cabinet or the withdrawal of ministers.

Khalil did not reveal details of Berri 's initiative. But An-Nahar quoted sources as saying that the Speaker's proposal is a "blend of the old offer with some new ideas added to it."

The proposal suggests considering the false witnesses' issue as a "subdivision issue" of the original case is the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which was referred to the Judicial Council before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon put its hands on it.

In that case, the sources explain, there is no need for a new decree to forward the false witnesses' issue to the Judicial Council, and consequently, there is no need to discuss the issue in Cabinet.

They said it would then be up to the Judicial Council to decide whether it has power over the false witnesses' issue or not.

Khalil shuttled between Baabda Palace and the Grand Serail on Monday in an effort to promote Berri's initiative.

The sources said Khalil sensed "openness" from both President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri toward Berri's proposal.