Optimism over Cabinet formation seemingly dissipates

The two Christian rivals have both laid claim to the Ministry of Justice, currently occupied by FPM affiliate Salim Jreissati.
by Georgi Azar

23 October 2018 | 14:29

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 23 October 2018 | 14:29

A file photo of Prime-Minister designate Saad Hariri (NNA)

BEIRUT: Last week's optimism surrounding the formation of a new Cabinet has yet to yield a positive outcome to the six months long deadlock, as the tug and pull between the Free Patriotic Movement and Lebanese Forces continues to hamper Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's efforts. 

The two Christian rivals have both laid claim to the Ministry of Justice, currently occupied by FPM affiliate Salim Jreissati, with the disagreement seemingly unresolved following a meeting between caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi and Hariri at the latter's Beirut residence Monday. 

Riachi, acting as an envoy for LF leader Samir Geagea, did not divulge much information as he made his way out of the meeting. The LF managed to secure 15 MPs during May's parliamentary elections and have been seeking a bloc of four ministries, including the position of deputy prime minister and the Culture and Social Affairs Ministries. 

With the conflict still the heart of the power struggle, Hariri reiterated Tuesday the need to "protect Lebanon before thinking of the size of our blocs."

Last week, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah poured cold water on the perceived breakthrough in the Cabinet negotiation process, saying that "certain obstacles remain as it pertains to the allocation of portfolios."

Nasrallah's comments came in reference to the demands by the pro-Hezbollah Sunni coalition to be represented in the Cabinet, a request Hariri vehemently rejects.

On Monday, Hariri maintained his unwillingness to include the Sunni bloc, comprised of 6 MPs, telling reporters that his refusal stems from their lack of affiliation to a major party. 

"There are certainly difficulties in politics, especially after the conclusion of parliamentary elections," Hariri said, arguing that the formation of a government is essential in order to implement reforms and initiate the CEDRE IV infrastructure projects. 

Lebanon secured over $11 billion in soft loans and grants at a conference in Paris in April as the international community pledged support to help the debt-ridden country revamp its ailing infrastructure and bolster its economy.

These funds, however, have yet to make their way given the government crisis which has ostensibly put the whole of Lebanon on standby. 

"I assure you that the international community is eager to implement the projects agreed upon during CEDRE IV," the premier said. 

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