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Lebanon: Consultations to Form the Government Enter 'Serious Phase' amid Disagreement over Jumblatt’s Share

Lebanon: Consultations to Form the Government Enter 'Serious Phase' amid Disagreement over Jumblatt’s Share

Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 - 07:15
Lebanese President Michel Aoun meets with Lebanese Druze politician Walid Jumblatt at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon November 27, 2017. Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Consultations to form the new government have entered the serious phase, a month after the expiry of the former cabinet’s term and the designation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to assume caretaking.

Disagreements over the Christians’ representation were resolved but a dispute has emerged over the ministries allocated to the Druze community.

The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), Walid Jumblatt – backed by Hariri - has stressed his bloc’s right to have the Druze total share, which means three ministers, based on the results of the parliamentary elections. President Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) insist, however, on allocating a ministry to the head of the Lebanese Democratic Party, MP Talal Arslan

As political blocs await Hariri’s return to Lebanon on Wednesday, well-informed ministerial sources said the consultations were serious, stressing that the main problems were now resolved and the next step was to determine the names of ministers.

While the sources believe that there is no problem with the Sunni representation, which can be solved by giving Hezbollah a Sunni minister and Hariri a Shiite, they point to the presence of a “Christian node”, represented by the Lebanese Forces (LF) party’s request to have a share equal to that of the FPM.

The same sources state however, that the problem can be solved by allocating four ministries to the LF, while consecrating the position of deputy premier to the FPM.

There are also attempts to reduce the shares of the president and the FPM to nine portfolios, instead of ten.

As for the “Druze node”, the ministerial sources said that Jumblatt was likely to receive his demand, but also point to the possibility of resolving the matter by giving the PSP a Christian minister with a key ministerial portfolio.

Commenting on this issue, former Minister Ghazi Aridi underlined the PSP’s right to have the full Druze share.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “There are those who are trying to create this node. They have always said before and after the parliamentary elections that they support the fair representation and that they are with the strongest in a community; but when the elections proved that Jumblatt is the strongest, they turned against their values.”

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