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Rise of New Alignments Delaying Formation of Lebanon’s Cabinet - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut- Lebanon has been lately witnessing the rise of new political alignments amid ongoing consultations on the formation of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s government.

Now that the March 8 and 14 alliances have become from the past, the new stage following the election of President Michel Aoun last month paved way for formation of new coalitions.

The parliament was divided between those in favor of Aoun and those rejecting his election, mainly Speaker Nabih Berri, Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh, the Kataeb Party that is led by lawmaker Sami Gemayel and several independent MPs.

Informed sources said that there is now an alliance whose 44 members either voted against Aoun or cast white votes. This coalition should have a balanced role in the consultations carried out by Hariri to form his cabinet.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that “minor obstacles are preventing the formation of the government but resolving them is necessary to pave way for the new lineup.”

The sources suggested forming a government that is quite similar to that of Prime Minister Tammam Salam to facilitate the announcement of the lineup.

According to the sources, Salam should be replaced by Hariri, and Aoun should name three ministers who were from the share of former President Michel Suleiman.

Furthermore, the sources suggested granting the Lebanese Forces the portfolios that were held by independent Christian ministers and said Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi should be replaced as a result of his differences with Hariri.

A Free Patriotic Movement official, who refused to be identified, told Asharq Al-Awsat that all efforts were being exerted to form the cabinet before the Nov. 22 Independence Day.

The main obstacle lies in the demand to give the Marada Movement a balanced portfolio to put pressure on the share of the LF, said the official.

The LF has been demanding a so-called sovereign portfolio due to the role it played in bringing Aoun to the presidency.

“Franjieh is insisting on having the public works, energy or the telecommunications ministries … which is making the distribution of portfolios difficult,” said the official.