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Differences on Lebanese Cabinet Portfolios Begin to Emerge | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri meets with former PM Fouad Saniora. NNA

Beirut-As Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri launched his non-binding consultations with parliamentary blocs on Friday, signs began emerging on differences among different parties on their shares in the new government.

President Michel Aoun, who was elected on Friday, reiterated during a meeting with a delegation of ambassadors that Lebanon would witness political stability and the respect of the Constitution.

“Law enforcement would be the only adopted standard in state institutions,” he said.

Aoun also stressed that his priority was to agree on a new electoral law to hold the parliamentary elections on time.

“Bringing the Lebanese together on a national policy will be followed by a unity on a single foreign policy,” he told the diplomats.

As the Lebanese await the stance of the two main Shi’ite parties – the so-called Hezbollah and Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal movement – from the participation in the new cabinet, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that he has authorized Berri to negotiate on the party’s behalf over the government formation and distribution of portfolios.

Nasrallah called for the formation of a national unity government, adding that his group would not take part in any cabinet if the Amal Movement did not join.

“We call for dealing positively with the new era because we have a golden opportunity to preserve our country and confront challenges,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

Although Hezbollah’s bloc did not name Hariri for prime minister during Aoun’s consultations with parliamentary blocs, Nasrallah said: “We did everything necessary to facilitate [Hariri’s] designation.”

“Our hopes are high on the capability of President Aoun to address issues,” he added.

MP Ali Khreis, who is a member of Berri’s Development and Liberation bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that discussions on the division of portfolios would be made after an agreement is reached on the shape of the cabinet.

Sources have said the new cabinet should comprise 24 ministers, with the possibility of expanding it to 30 ministers to satisfy all blocs.

According to Khreis, if the second option was adopted, then Hezbollah and Amal should get five ministries, with at least one of them being a so-called sovereign portfolio.

Asked about differences with the Lebanese Forces on the finance ministry, the MP said: “We will wait and see how things will develop.”

On the same issue, LF lawmaker Antoine Zahra told Asharq Al-Awsat that the LF should be represented in the government in an “unprecedented way.”

The LF “has never had an effective participation” in ruling the country, he said, adding that an LF representative should be granted a sovereign portfolio, preferably the finance ministry and other services ministries.