Bassil denies hindering Cabinet formation

In an interview with Annahar, Bassil maintained that no scheduled meeting is set to take place between him, or President Michel Aoun with Hariri, considering that no "new developments have occurred."
by Georgi Azar

3 August 2018 | 13:13

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 3 August 2018 | 13:13

This undated photo shows Free Patriotic Movement leader and caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil (AFP)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil expressed his willingness to resolve any issues hindering the formation of a new Cabinet, telling Annahar that he's at the "service of" Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to discuss "any obstacles and how to overcome them." 

In an interview with Annahar, Bassil maintained that no scheduled meeting is set to take place between him, or President Michel Aoun and Hariri, considering that no "new developments have occurred." 

Prime Minister-designate Hariri has been tasked with forming an all-inclusive Cabinet comprising of the country's different political factions, yet has faced several hurdles in the process, mainly in respect to the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement's demands.

The LF, who saw their bloc expand to 15 MPs, have been pushing for a significant share of ministries including one of four key portfolios (Interior, Defense, Foreign and Finance Ministries) to rival the FPM. The FPM-led parliamentary bloc, with its 29 MPs however, remains the biggest Christian coalition in Parliament. 

President Michel Aoun has been adamant in his refusal to grant the LF's wishes and limit their representation, hinting at the possibility of forming a majority Cabinet despite Hariri's commitment to an all-inclusive government. The President has also been trying to secure at least three other ministries to go alongside the FPM's seven, including that of the deputy premier position which is currently occupied by the LF. 

Yet in a recent meeting between caretaker Minister of Information Melhem Riachi and Aoun, the Lebanese Forces alluded to the possibility of relinquishing their deputy premier position in exchange for a package of four ministerial portfolios, with the President reportedly open to the idea. 

Bassil then went on to dispel the notion of actively hampering the process, saying that his "alliance with the Future Movement still stands," while maintaining his hope in forming an "all-inclusive Cabinet free of the March 8 and 14 divisions" of years gone by. 

"It is our duty to unite all Lebanese and form a national unity government," he said. 

Touching on the return of refugees, which has gained traction in recent weeks following the intervention of Russia, Bassil stressed that the effort should not be considered as a move to gain political points, but as an achievement "for Lebanon and Syria."

"This will not have an impact on the government and we do not want to harm Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, we want to win with him and not at his expense," he told Annahar. 

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