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Lebanon’s Cabinet Formation Soon as PM-Designate Seeks to Resolve LF Obstacle | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Michel Aoun meets with PM-designate Saad Hariri at Baabda Palace. NNA

Beirut-The obstacles facing the formation of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s new government are being removed one step at a time after conditions placed by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat have been likely met.

Jumblat and the head of the Lebanese Democratic Party, Talal Arslan, voiced their anger on Wednesday after reports said that the Druze sect would be granted the social affairs ministry instead of the health portfolio, in addition to the economy ministry.

The two Druze officials said so-called sovereign portfolios should not be monopolized by any party.

In a series of tweets, Jumblat warned against attempts to marginalize the Druze and insisted on retaining the health ministry, which is currently held by a member of his party caretaker Health Minister Wael Abou Faour.

“Every group is taking what it wants by force and it’s forbidden to even hint at seeking a sovereign ministry, which is the property of senior leaders,” the PSP chief said in one Tweet.

PSP official Zafer Nasser told Asharq Al-Awsat that Jumblat needed to raise his objections over the “heresy” of sovereign portfolios.

“We are not making crippling demands,” he said.

While the “Druze obstacle” has been removed, there remains the condition placed by the Lebanese Forces to get a sovereign portfolio amid a Hezbollah veto.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the LF does not aim at holding onto a certain ministry portfolio.

“It wants to have an effective participation in decision-making through a certain ministry,” they said.

The sources ruled out the non-participation of the LF in the cabinet.

LF official Wehbe Qatisha also told Asharq Al-Awsat that proposals for the LF to give up its demand for a sovereign portfolio in return for two essential ministries and the post of the deputy Speaker were not applicable.

The LF has so far not given up on its right to lead a sovereign portfolio, he said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri remained optimistic that the new government would be formed soon. He said there was a shared desire by parliamentary blocs to form a cabinet as soon as possible.

Hariri presented President Michel Aoun a draft cabinet lineup Wednesday night. This was a sign that the new government would be formed soon.