Beirut-Consultations led by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to form a new government in Lebanon entered a race against time, limiting the possibility to form the cabinet before Independence Day next Tuesday.
Optimism that prevailed in the last few hours has somehow dissipated as a result of “vetoes” over the participation of some parties in the government lineup, particularly the Marada Movement and the Kataeb Party as a response to their previous rejection to support the presidential deal.
In addition to the vetoes, parties are still bickering on shares and political portfolios.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hariri and President Michel Aoun were exerting efforts with all political forces to remove the obstacles hampering the birth of the cabinet.
“The next government is an electoral one, because it would prepare for the parliamentary elections expected next spring. Therefore, all parties wish to participate in it,” the sources said.
The sources denied media reports listing the names of the next ministers. “These are only rumors. The names of the next ministers are imaginary.”
Also, the positive mood that prevailed recently – despite the objection of Speaker Nabih Berri to Aoun’s election – suffered a setback on Thursday following a statement that the president made from Bkirki where he met with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.
“All our institutions were damaged due to the extension of the Parliament’s term and the inability of the governing body to act,” Aoun said.
Aoun’s position, which once again doubted the legitimacy of the Parliament, drew a quick response from Berri, who said: “Of course the extension was bad and state institutions became weak as the president said, but hindering the election of a head of state was far worse for the institutions, including the Parliament.”
The Speaker was hinting to Aoun whose parliamentary bloc had boycotted with his ally the so-called Hezbollah 45 sessions to elect a president, before a deal was reached to elect him last month.
Member of the Future Movement politburo Mustafa Alloush told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that a deal on the next government was almost reached.
“But something came up and returned things back to the circle of negotiations,” Alloush said.
He said the problem remains at the level of dividing the shares and portfolios. “No names are yet distributed on the ministerial portfolios,” the former MP said.
Sources close to talks conducted between Ain al-Tineh and Center House (Berri and Hariri) said that the main problem was still with the Christians.
“The main obstacle is the request of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Lebanese Forces (LF) to keep the Marada Movement away from the cabinet lineup,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The sources added that the FPM and the LF are opposed to including Marada and the Kataeb in the government because both parties had rejected the deal that led to the election of Aoun as president.