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Lebanon: Government Formation Gets More Complicated - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut – Several obstacles are still hampering the formation of a new Lebanese Cabinet, in the wake of difficult conditions set by the major political forces, which are battling over “sovereign portfolios” and other key ministries.

Parliamentary and political sources said that obstacles preventing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri from forming the government had regional dimensions, as some regional forces were trying to exhaust the influence of President Michel Aoun in the early phase of his tenure.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri stressed the need to speed up Cabinet formation, adding that he has offered all facilitations to help the premier-designate assume his mission.

“The problem is not with me; it is somewhere else,” Berri said on Wednesday during his weekly meeting with lawmakers.

The Lebanese speaker has been insisting on keeping the ministries of public works and finance for his bloc, while the major obstacle lies in the share of MP Suleiman Franjieh, who said he would not participate in the government unless he receives a key ministry, such as the public works, energy or telecommunications.

However, Franjieh’s demands are being rejected by the two major Christian blocs represented by Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces.

Liberation and Development Bloc MP Ayoub Hemayed said that Berri was seeking to remove all obstacles hindering the new government’s formation.

Hemayed told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that once the FPM decides to give the culture ministry to Franjieh, Berri’s bloc would propose to exchange the public works ministry with the ministry of culture to meet Franjieh’s demands.

“It is clear that the FPM is only committed to the Lebanese Forces’ demands, while it is trying to throw the ball in others’ court,” he stated.

For his part, FPM MP Hikmat Deeb said that the public works ministry was the major obstacle to the government’s formation. He stressed that Berri was insisting on keeping the ministry for his bloc.

Future Bloc MP Ammar Houri said that current obstacles had both internal and regional dimensions.