Lebanon’s Justice Portfolio Impedes Cabinet Formation

Lebanon’s Justice Portfolio Impedes Cabinet Formation

Monday, 22 October, 2018 - 06:15
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri met Saturday night with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea accompanied by Caretaker Information Melhim Riachi, in the presence of Caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury. NNA
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Discussions on Lebanon’s next government kept facing obstacles over the weekend in light of President Michel Aoun’s attachment to the Justice Ministry, and the Lebanese Forces rejection to end up outside the cabinet lineup.

“Discussions on the Justice Ministry portfolio are now behind us after President Aoun made his decision to keep the ministry within his share” in the government, Presidential sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday.

They said Aoun had offered several concessions to the LF, mainly by giving them the deputy prime minister’s seat.

“During his meeting with the prime minister-designate last Wednesday, Aoun never promised (Saad) Hariri to offer the Justice Ministry to the LF, but told him he might discuss the issue if there was an alternative proposal,” the sources explained.

Meanwhile, leading sources from the Strong Lebanon bloc headed by Free Patriotic Movement leader and caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, accused on Sunday the LF of trying to obstruct the formation process until after the expected US sanctions on “Hezbollah” early next month.

However, LF sources rejected his accusations.

“No one has the right to accuse us of obstructing the government formation process. Those hindering the process are the same parties who refuse to offer any concessions that would allow parties to be at an equal distance,” the LF sources said, adding that the ministerial portfolios are not the possession of any side.

They said the LF demanded the Justice Ministry after being exempted from any so-called “sovereign” ministry.

In the face of such counter-accusations, the two Christian parties are not likely to solve their disputes unless a new proposal on ministerial shares is made in the coming days.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, however, that there is no such proposal so far.

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