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Battle of Portfolios Kicks off in Lebanon

Battle of Portfolios Kicks off in Lebanon

Friday, 12 October, 2018 - 06:30
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (R) and Prime Minister Saad Hariri (2nd R) attend a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace of Baabda, east of the capital Beirut, on December 5, 2017. Joseph Eid /AFP
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Despite a positive climate surrounding Lebanon's cabinet formation process, the two principal Christian and Druze obstacles remained unsolved Thursday after concerned parties said they had not received any official proposals on their ministerial shares.

The Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party confirmed that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri did not propose to them any formula.

A source from the LF told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The climate is neither positive nor negative.”

He said Hariri was exerting stronger efforts to solve the cabinet crisis. “Results of those efforts will see light next week. Either Hariri succeeds in forming the government, or things would return to the previous phase,” the source explained.

There have been reports that the LF would receive four ministerial portfolios, including the deputy PM’s seat. However, the party has rejected a proposal to get the Ministries of Social Affairs, Education and Culture.

The LF position was echoed by PSP officials, who said that the party was not informed of any ministerial formula.

A member of the Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc, deputy Bilal Abdullah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the main obstacle now lies in the Christian camp after PSP leader Walid Jumblat expressed willingness to give up one of the Druze seats.

On Thursday, the Central News Agency quoted sources as saying that the distribution of ministerial shares is almost complete, and that discussions have kicked off on the type of portfolios allocated to each party.

The sources assert that “Hezbollah” would receive the Health Ministry, which will be headed by a nonpartisan doctor from Baalbek.

Hariri’s Mustaqbal Movement would keep the Interior, Telecommunications and Labor portfolios while the Free Patriotic Movement favors appointing women at the Energy or Foreign ministries.

Reports also stated that caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil prefers to head the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.

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