Lebanese PM Launches New Initiative to Resolve Cabinet Deadlock

Tuesday, 22 January, 2019 - 07:00
Beirut - Youssef Diab

Following a pause of more than a week, as political leaders were busy preparing for the Arab Economic Summit, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri launched a new initiative aimed at reviving efforts to resolve the nine-month cabinet formation deadlock.

Political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Hariri did not uncover the details of his proposal, however, it is mainly focused on the blocking third and distribution of ministerial portfolios.

The sources said Hariri informed President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri about his initiative.

“Both officials welcomed the proposal, but would wait to learn about its details before taking the appropriate position.”

In Beirut, Hariri met Monday with caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.

"There are several suggestions that are being discussed. Hariri agreed to more than one idea. There is a real possibility to form a government if there are good intentions,” said the minister after the talks.

“Hariri will carry out the necessary contacts over the next two days to follow up on the issue,” Bassil added.

Sources from Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Hariri and the FM are currently holding talks with several parties to push forward the cabinet formation process.

Asked about leaked reports saying Hariri would again suggest forming a 32-member cabinet, the sources said: “Such a proposal is one of several ideas currently under discussion.”

Furthermore, the sources said that the tensions that prevailed between Aoun and Berri over the invitation of Libya to last week’s summit in Beirut have not impacted the cabinet talks.

“All parties want to end the deadlock and seriously form a political cabinet capable of following up on the results of the summit,” the sources said.

However, Mustaqbal Movement politburo member Mustafa Alloush is still not optimistic about the near birth of a cabinet.

“The problem is with Bassil. If he abandons a demand that his bloc acquire the blocking third, then a government may see the light,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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