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Lebanon”s new government delayed again over political squabbling | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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BEIRUT(AP)- Political squabbling forced Lebanon”s prime minister-designate to scrap a proposed list for a new government Thursday, drawing out a two-week deadlock that has underlined the country”s deep divisions since the end of Syrian domination.

After talks with the president determined that the proposed lineup was unacceptable, Prime Minister-designate Fuad Saniora said he would try to come up with a new list made up of people not connected to the political blocs in parliament.

&#34After running out of options … we have come to the last option, which is ministers from outside parliament,&#34 Saniora told reporters.

Saniora was selected to lead a new government by the anti-Syrian coalition that controls parliament after elections last month ended the long domination of the legislature by Damascus” allies. Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April, removing the keystone of its decades-long control of the country.

Now the multiple factions, pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian are wrangling for a place in the new Cabinet.

Saniora presented pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud a 30-member Cabinet lineup on Tuesday. But the list faced strong reservations by Christian anti-Syrian leader Michel Aoun and Shiite Muslim groups, and Lahoud appears to have rejected it.

Two main sticking points have been Aoun”s representation as well as that of the Shiite Muslim groups Hezbollah and Amal.

Aoun, who with his allies leads a 21-member bloc in the 128-seat parliament, had demanded four seats in a cabinet of 24 ministers, and five seats in a cabinet of 30, to reflect the size of his group in parliament. Saniora agreed with Aoun on a cabinet of 24 ministers and had reportedly agreed with Hezbollah and Amal on their representation.

But on Tuesday, Saniora presented Lahoud with a 30-member Cabinet lineup, adding six allies to the list. Aoun and Shiite politicians promptly accused Saniora of reneging on their previous agreement. Aoun said Saniora had backed away from the deal, which creates &#34a climate of mistrust&#34 and said Wednesday that he refuses to participate.