Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon Government Formation Stymied by more Obstacles | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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PM-designate Saad Hariri meets a delegation from Future Movement politburo. Photo: Dalati and Nohra

Beirut- Hopes on the formation of the Lebanese government before Christmas and the New Year began fading after the emergence of a series of new obstacles.

According to informed sources, several problems, which are hard to overcome, emerged in the past few days, bringing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s efforts to form the cabinet into a standstill.

Among those obstacles is the insistence of the two main Shi’ite parties – Hezbollah and Amal Movement – on the formation of a 30-member cabinet. Such a request would bring back consultations to square one because they will require a new distribution of portfolios on the different political parties, said the sources.

Other obstacles include the rejection of some political parties to be allocated minister of state posts, they told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Such problems led to concerns at the Center House (Hariri’s residence in downtown Beirut) that the March 8 alliance and their ally President Michel Aoun would try to impose a deal on an electoral draft-law based on full proportional representation in return for facilitating the formation of the government.

But a law based fully on proportionality is totally rejected by Hariri’s Future Movement.

Future MP Jean Oghassabian stressed in remarks to a local radio station that the proportionality draft law would not be approved by the parliament, saying there can’t be full proportional representation as long as certain areas in the country are not fully under the control of the state.

“Such a law would take the country to more paralysis. There will be a problem on June 20 – the end of the parliament’s term – if we reject the extension of its tenure and the so-called 1960 law” that has governed previous elections.

Another Future MP, Mohammed al-Hajjar, did not rule out the possibility of some parties trying to link the cabinet formation to a deal on the proportional representation electoral draft-law.

The Future Movement rejects such a law amid the presence of illegitimate arms that stop the state from exercising sovereignty on all its territories, he said.

Lebanese parties have been divided between adopting a proportional vote law or a hybrid electoral law that includes aspects of the proportional and the current 1960 winner-take-all systems.