Beirut- The new cabinet lineup is the first challenge the newly elected Lebanese President Michel Aoun is expected to face, and it constitutes a first test to measure the seriousness of the agreements forged prior to his election.
Political forces had discussed before agreeing on nominating Aoun the idea of forming “a national unity government that must include all parties” without tackling the cabinet lineup in details. Their agreement only stipulated the nomination of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to head the new cabinet.
According to Lebanon’s Constitution, the current cabinet of Prime Minister Tammam Salam acts as a caretaker following the election of a new president.
On Monday, after Aoun arrived to the Presidential Palace, the Directorate General of the Presidency issued a statement saying: “The President expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister and all ministers, and requested that the Cabinet acts as a caretaker until the formation of a new Cabinet.”
The formation of the new Cabinet would not be an easy task because the deal reached prior to Aoun’s election did not involve all Lebanese parties, mainly Speaker Berri, who had requested an agreement on the new cabinet lineup and the electoral law prior to the election of a president.
Observers however do not expect such a mission to take a long time, similar to what happened with Salam’s cabinet, which took 8 months before seeing the light.
Aoun on Monday kicked off his term by setting Wednesday and Thursday as the date for holding the binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a prime minister who will form the new government.
A source from the Free Patriotic Movement told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We are starting a new ruling era. The General would not allow things to take a long time.”
He added: “It is time to work now and not to start a tug-of-war.”
The source denied the presence of an already forged agreement between political forces concerning the lineup of the next government. “There would not be a clear picture of the next cabinet before we know which political parties would participate in it,” the source said.
Although Berri was not part of the political agreement that brought Aoun to power, there is a chance he will participate in the next government.
Member of Berri’s parliamentary bloc, MP Michel Musa told Asharq Al-Awsat that the speaker would study the suggestions of the next cabinet lineup before announcing his position.
Musa however said that the party is ready to stretch its hands to facilitate the recovering of the country’s political life.
“I believe that no one will place obstacles in the face of the cabinet lineup,” he said.