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Lebanon: Kataeb Party Heads Towards Participation in New Government | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Kataeb Party leader MP Sami Gemayel meets with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki on Friday November 11, 2016. NNA

Beirut-Lebanon’s Kataeb Party will likely become a member of the new government, which Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is working on forming, a position that would secure the participation of the country’s main parties in the new cabinet months before the parliamentary elections expected to be held in May.

The head of Kataeb, MP Sami Gemayel, said on Friday the party would not mind participating in the government at the service of Lebanon, if there is a will to include and respect everyone.

Gemayel said it is wrong to consider those who have not voted for President Michel Aoun as part of the opposition.

Relations between the two previous allies, the Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces have lately deteriorated due to the calls made by the latter to keep the parties who had not voted for Aoun out of the government.

Gemayel considered this position an attempt to isolate him. “These attempts are clear in every statement,” he said.

The lawmaker explained that the system in Lebanon is not presidential but parliamentary, and therefore, the opposition is usually formed against the Prime Minister, confirming the party’s right to be represented in the next government.

Member of the Kataeb politburo Serge Dagher told Asharq Al-Awsat that the party has informed Hariri that it would not mind participating in the new government. “We are waiting for his offer because we have not placed any conditions on the type and number of ministerial portfolios.”

Sources from the LF told the newspaper that the party was flexible regarding all the suggestions on the next cabinet lineup. “We can abandon our demand to have the Ministry of Finance which Speaker Nabih Berri is asking for. However, we would not negotiate on our rights or bow to any vetoes placed by any party,” the sources said.

The sources added that negotiations on the cabinet lineup have not yet produced a decision on the division of the ministerial shares, denying that concerned parties had started discussing the names of the ministers.

“There is still enough time to form the cabinet before Independence Day on Nov. 22,” the sources said.

Elsewhere, while head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblat tweeted on Friday that “some parasites are hampering the government formation process, but they are being dealt with,” a surprising comment was made by so-called Hezbollah lawmaker Ali Meqdad.

The MP said the new president would protect the “golden third” equation to safeguard the country, referring to the “people, army and resistance” formula that the party is attached to as part of the country’s defensive strategy.