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Lebanon: Birth of Cabinet this Week Depends on Public Works Portfolio | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Franjieh met with Berri on Monday/NNA

Beirut – A pour of meetings and talks intensified in Lebanon this week with an attempt to solve the remaining obstacles ahead of announcing the birth of a new cabinet before the festive seasons.

Meetings held on Monday and the comments delivered by some officials echoed that the lineup operation was in its last phases.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the government decrees could be issued on Wednesday or Thursday.

“The scenario of the proposed solution stipulates that the Marada Movement gets the Public Works portfolio while Speaker Nabih Berri’s party would receive the Education portfolio and the Lebanese Forces the Health portfolio,” the sources said.

Berri and head of the Marada Movement Suleiman Franjieh had agreed on this formula during their meeting on Monday. The sources said all parties now await the response of the Lebanese Forces concerning this new proposal, after the party insisted to take the Ministry of Public Works instead of a leading portfolio, which they did not obtain.

The sources added that head of the Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt was the most compliant leader in the lineup operation. “It seems (Jumblatt) will take the Justice and the Environment ministries.”

The sources also said that the option of having a 30-member cabinet increased in the last few hours, because it remains the only solution to secure the representation of all parties, including the Phalange party, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Marada Movement and to offer the March 8 alliance a Sunni minister.

Until late on Monday, the Lebanese Forces was still silent on the proposed formula. High-ranking officials at the party told Asharq Al-Awsat they have not yet decided on the matter.

On Monday, Franjieh held a series of meetings that he kicked off with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai before visiting Berri.

Rai is working to fix the deteriorating relation between the two previous allies, President Michel Aoun and Franjieh.

Informed sources said a meeting between Aoun and Franjieh seems a done deal, but could not confirm whether the two men will sit together before or after the cabinet formation.

Following his meeting with Berri on Monday, Franjieh said: “
”We got our right back when Speaker Berri presented the ministry of works to us, and we hope that President Michel Aoun would be open to it. And we as Marada consider that our rights were restored by Berri and Hariri.”