Lebanon Cabinet Line-up Hinges on LF Consent for Labor Ministry

Lebanon Cabinet Line-up Hinges on LF Consent for Labor Ministry

Saturday, 20 October, 2018 - 07:30
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received Friday at the Center House Minister Gebran Bassil/NNA
Beirut - Thaer Abbas
Lebanon's government formation process entered Friday a crucial phase that would determine whether political parties would facilitate Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s task to announce a line-up soon, or delay it by keeping a series of obstacles.

Hariri kept his optimism high regarding his mission, But the two main Christian parties (Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement) seemed engaged in a rivalry on which side would “win the government battle.”

Concerned parties had predicted the formation of a government starting Saturday after a near agreement to offer the LF the Justice Ministry and the deputy Prime Minister’s seat.

However, the situation got complicated again after presidential palace sources said President Michel Aoun is attached to the Justice Ministry.

Sources close to FPM leader and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun’s son-in-law and the Movement had made all concessions to help facilitate the government formation. “We are not responsible for the presence of additional complications,” the sources said.

Information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday showed that Hariri’s proposed lineup offers the LF party four ministries, including the Social Affairs, Culture and Labor (instead of Justice Ministry), while the President gets the Justice and the Defense in addition to two other ministries.

The FPM, which has been founded by Aoun, would receive the Foreign, Energy, Economy and another ministry while Speaker Nabih Berri, who is head of Amal Movement, would keep the two ministries of Finance and Agriculture. "Hezbollah" would be given the Health Ministry while Hariri gets the Interior and three other ministries.

For his part, head of the Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblat receives the ministries of Education and Industry while Minister Talal Arslan would appoint the third Druze minister only after the approval of the PSP chief.

LF sources refused to comment on the proposed line-up and whether the party would accept the Labor Ministry. “We will wait until Hariri officially informs us about the new proposal,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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