Lebanon: Political Optimism on Formation of Cabinet Led by Khatib
Lebanon witnessed a growing sense of optimism at the end of its working week after an agreement to name engineer Samir Khatib to form the new government and a clearer vision on the distribution of portfolios.
President Michel Aoun, speaking during a meeting with heads of professional syndicates, said Thursday that the new government’s priorities include “achieving the essential reforms in different sectors” and fighting corruption.
Several sources close to Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri agreed that Khatib will most likely head the next cabinet.
“Some disputes would not hinder his appointment to form a new government,” the sources said.
Other informed ministerial sources close to Aoun told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that “final touches were being placed on the shape of the government, with a possibility of changes in the distribution of sovereign portfolios.”
The cabinet is expected to include 18 to 24 ministers.
“Until now, four ministers from the caretaker cabinet will remain in the government: They are: Nada Boustani from the Free Patriotic Movement, Salim Jreisati from the share of President Michel Aoun, Amal Movement's Ali Hassan Khalil and Mohammed Fneish from Hezbollah,” the sources said.
They added that Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party should name non-political figures to represent them in the new government.
Concerning the dispute over the Interior and Foreign ministries, and the request of caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil that his party receives the first portfolio, the sources said that discussions are underway in this regard, predicting that the sovereign ministries remain distributed among political parties.
The Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Forces are determined not to participate in the new cabinet, reiterating their demands to form a government of technocrats as called for by protesters who took to the streets on Oct. 17, forcing Hariri's resignation.
Baabda Palace has announced that the binding parliamentary consultations to name the new PM would be held next Monday.