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Riachi: We must determine a new mission for the Ministry of Information

Information Minister, Melhem Riachi, said on Sunday that a new mission for the Ministry of Information should be determined that would transform the Ministry into a medium of communication.

In an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio-Dbayeh, the Minister said he was working on forming a parliamentary team, which would draft a bill to transform the Ministry of Information into a ministry of dialogue and communication.

The new mission for the ministry should focus on the need for a form of communication and discourse between the citizen and the State.

Riachi added that he was currently working on restructuring the Ministry and improving the situation of civil servants. Such improvements included paying contractual workers at the National New Agency and the studies directorate their dues.

Concerning the National Media Council, the Minister asserted that it would be granted new prerogatives in terms of decision-making.

Riachi went on to say that he was in the process of drafting a law on the ethics of the profession. A project he planned to submit to the Council of Ministers in the near future.

According to his remarks, the State must rectify errors on behalf of the Lebanese people, highlighting that there was a difference between criticism and insult. The latter was rejected in substance and in form. The Minister confirmed that he would stand by anyone who received an offense during his term.

Riachi explained that the crisis affecting the information and media sectors these days was a result of the economic crunch. He announced in this context that he had drawn up a plan to improve the condition of the editors of the press, refusing any injustice done to them.

Turning to domestic politics, the Minister asserted that there was a collective tenacity to make the new term a successful one. He refused to allow for differences in opinion to turn into a reason for clashing with the other. This reaching out to the other was part of the "creed" of the Lebanese Forces.

"Practically, there is no direct communication with Hezbollah, and we disagree on many issues. But dialogue still takes place between people who diverge on matters."

Riachi called for an electoral law that did justice by Christians, but not at the expense of others.

"MP Walid Jumblatt is marketing a new electoral law based on the majority, and he might get the consent of political blocs," he said, noting that the LF and Future have reached a settlement over an electoral law that rectified Christian representation in parliament.

Touching on regional matters, Riachi deemed President Michel Aoun's visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia an ice-breaker that restored Arab trust in Lebanon. He was certain that the relation with Qatar and Saudi would witness positive development.

"The objective behind the Saudi visit was met. There are 400 thousand Lebanese living and working in Saudi and Qatar, and they aid around one million Lebanese in their homeland. This matter was a great relief to them."

The thorny issue of Syrian refugees was another point that needed mending. According to Riachi, the country was "bloated with Syrians." He saw no harm in sending them back to safe zones in Syria.

"The important thing is not to deal with this issue in a racist manner."

Source: National News Agency