BEIRUT (AFP) – A key leader of Lebanon’s governing coalition said on Tuesday he would abide by a cabinet formula agreed on by rival factions after saying earlier this month his membership of the alliance had expired.
“I conveyed my full support to prime minister-designate Saad Hariri in forming a national unity government according to the agreed formula,” Druze leader and parliamentarian Walid Jumblatt told reporters after meeting Hariri.
“I also conveyed my respect for the will of the electorate,” he added.
Fierce negotiations have led to an agreement on a division of portfolios in the 30-seat cabinet, with 15 going to Hariri’s ruling alliance, 10 to the Hezbollah-led opposition and President Michel Sleiman appointing five.
But more than six weeks after Hariri was appointed premier, the cabinet has yet to see the light of day as feuding political camps squabble over the ministries.
Earlier this month Progressive Socialist Party leader Jumblatt announced his alliance with right-wing parties in the Hariri camp “could no longer continue” because it contradicted his leftist heritage.
He told a television station he intended instead to align himself with Sleiman, a former commander of the army, but after meeting the president he said he only meant that the alliance had to “rethink its slogans.”
Jumblatt had been the most fervent and vocal member of the ruling “March 14” alliance, formed in 2005 in the wake of the assassination of Hariri’s father, former premier Rafik Hariri.
In June’s general election, the US-backed March 14 alliance beat a Hezbollah-led opposition backed by Syria and Iran.
The Jumblatt bloc has 11 of the alliance’s 71 seats in the 128-strong parliament, and his departure from the ruling coalition would have stripped it of a clear majority.
Jumblatt on Tuesday also met leaders of the Shiite group Hezbollah.