BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri denied Thursday Speaker Nabih Berri's claims that he is avoiding the formation of a new Cabinet, claiming that the delays are a result of ongoing negotiations and the "Ramadan break."
Berri had accused Hariri of actively delaying the formation of a new Cabinet ever since his swift designation as Prime Minister following the conclusion of the country's first parliamentary elections in nine years.
Hariri hit back at Berri's accusations during the Beirut Development Conference where he reiterated his "confidence in gathering all parties involved in the coming days."
"I am hopeful that we will get everything done shortly," Hariri said while casting aside claims that the Lebanese Forces are to blame for the delays. The LF have expanded their parliamentary bloc to 15 MPs in the recent parliamentary elections, however, the Free Patriotic Movement remains the biggest Christian coalition along with their allies after capturing 29 seats.
The LF's demand for a significant share of portfolios in the Cabinet has been fiercely disputed by the FPM, the party founded by President Michel Aoun and currently led by his son-in-law caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
Touching on the FPM's demand to be awarded seven portfolios, as well as Aoun's demand for another five, Hariri maintained that "negotiations are ongoing and everyone will be satisfied," before vowing to ensure "an all-inclusive Cabinet."
Yet Hariri described his recent meeting with Bassil as "positive" and underscored that Saudi Arabia has no interest in delaying the formation of the Cabinet.
"I was in Saudi Arabia and I can assure you that they are eager for the Cabinet to be formed," he said.
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