Sources hint at potential Cabinet breakthrough despite sharp divide

Sources close to the negotiation process maintained Hariri's willingness to break the stalemate given the social and economic unease surrounding the country, with the premier discussing with Aoun the most recent consultation held with the aforementioned parties.
by Georgi Azar

9 October 2018 | 18:49

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 9 October 2018 | 18:49

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been tasked with forming an all-inclusive Cabinet (AP)

BEIRUT: The gridlock over the Cabinet formation, approaching its sixth month, could soon be resolved as negotiations between the different political players are nearing their "maturity date," sources familiar with the discussions told Annahar. The optimism wasn't shared across the board, however, with a source close to the Lebanese Forces dismissing the claims in the midst of obvious differences.  

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who sources says is committed to forming an all-inclusive Cabinet that brings together representatives of major parties, has seen his efforts stumble as the Lebanese Forces, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil's Free Patriotic Movement and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt continue to quarrel over their share of portfolios.

Yet, Hariri expressed optimism in resolving the crisis during his meeting with President Michel Aoun last week, setting a 10-day deadline to bridge the divide.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Hariri said "concessions have been made from across the political spectrum, including the FPM and LF." 

"We hope to form the Cabinet once President Aoun returns form his visit to Yerevan," Hariri added, noting that he will not accept his reappointment as prime minister if he decides to step down from the post.

Sources close to the negotiation process maintained Hariri's willingness to break the stalemate given the social and economic unease surrounding the country, with the premier discussing with Aoun the most recent round of consultations held with key political parties. 

However, a source close to the LF rebuked on Monday the purported progress, denying that the party received any new Cabinet proposal or made any contact with the concerned parties "informing them of the positive atmosphere."

The source also reaffirmed the LF's willingness to bring to an end the current government vacuum and partake in "serious discussion once a formal offer is made." 

Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government since the conclusion of the country's parliamentary elections on May 6, with Hariri adamant in refusing to grant Bassil's FPM or any other coalition, veto power in the government, the equivalent of over 10 seats in a 30-member Cabinet.

This sentiment was also echoed by PSP leader Walid Jumblatt, who's been seeking the three ministerial posts reserved for the Druze sect, calling for a "swift end of the crisis." 

Jumblatt took to Twitter blasting the "current impasse," saying that "no one will descend to save us and there is no shame in making concessions for the good of the homeland."


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