BEIRUT: A new wave of optimism in breaking the almost eight months government deadlock has been evoked after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri kicked off fresh rounds of consultations.
On Monday, Hariri held talks with President Michel Aoun before signaling that negotiations "are in full to swing to usher in a new Cabinet that has been excessively delayed."
The Prime Minister-designate followed up with a separate meeting with caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Tuesday in an attempt to finally resolve the issue of the Hezbollah-backed Sunni MPs.
Following the meeting, Bassil maintained that "all efforts are being exerted to reach a fair solution," while calling on those concerned "to take part in solving the problem."
The March 8-affiliated Sunni MPs, backed by Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, have been demanding to be allocated one ministry in the 30-member Cabinet. After Aoun accepted to cede one Minister from his share on their behalf, the coalition then rejected the name proposed by Hariri, plunging back Lebanon into the political stalemate.
On Tuesday, however, a source familiar with the negotiation process signaled that "a new government could be formed within a week if everyone shows good faith," reiterating the "positive atmosphere of the past few days."
Speaking to Annahar, former Minister and current representative of the Sunni bloc Abdul Rahim Mrad welcomed the "new rounds of consultations."
"We are waiting for General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim to relay to us the latest developments," he said.
On December 18, 2018, Ibrahim launched a mediation effort with top Lebanese officials in an attempt to resolve the issue, yet negotiations floundered after the group rejected the nomination of Jawad Adra by Aoun and Hariri.
"We already made a number of concessions, accepting that none of the six MPs be nominated," he said.
Touching on Hariri's latest comments, Murad welcomed the initiative while casting aside blame for the continuous delays.
"We have shown flexibility during this whole process," he told Annahar.
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