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Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Insistence on 30-Member Cabinet Further Freezes Agreement - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut – Despite prevailing optimism over the imminent formation of the Lebanese Cabinet, the latest political developments have contradicted all expectations, as sources said that Hezbollah’s insistence on an expanded 30-member government has hampered all efforts in this regard.

Following a meeting at the presidential palace on Wednesday, Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri told reporters that the “matter still requires further consultations”.

Sources said that Hariri discussed with President Michel Aoun the Cabinet’s formation and latest political stances in this regard.

Meanwhile, during a meeting with various MPs and officials, Speaker Nabih Berri said: “There is no excuse for delaying the formation of the Cabinet and to issue decrees after the problem of portfolio allocation have been solved.”

He added that he has offered all facilitations to speed up government’s formation.

However, Berri’s optimism was soon met with less positive expectations as Hariri left the presidential palace on Wednesday.

Lebanese Forces Media Officer Charles Jabbour told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Hezbollah and Amal Movement were insisting on forming a Cabinet of 30 ministers.

He noted that adding six ministers to the Cabinet would not improve its efficiency, but would guarantee the March 8 Movement’s “vetoing third”.

For his part, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt called for a balanced representation that would include the Marada Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party.

Meanwhile, MP Alain Aoun headed an FPM delegation on Wednesday to visit Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, in an attempt to ease tensions between the two political parties.

In remarks following the meeting, Aoun said that both parties have agreed on the need to draft an electoral law that would be based on the proportional system, adding that the FPM was not seeking to marginalize any political party.