Naharnet

Cabinet Formation Delayed Amid Report Independent Figure Would Get Interior Ministry

The task of Premier-designate Najib Miqati to form the new government has become more difficult as President Michel Suleiman continued to hold onto the interior ministry portfolio which Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun is demanding as part of his share in the cabinet.

Speaker Nabih Berri’s sources told As Safir daily that the speaker stressed to Miqati during their meeting on Wednesday to speed up the government formation process. However, Miqati’s sources said no major progress was made in solving the deadlock over the interior ministry.

Despite ongoing consultations between Miqati and different parties, there was “a vicious circle,” the sources told As Safir. A solution to one deadlock could lead to a resolution of other problems obstructing the formation of the cabinet, they said.

Aoun’s sources confirmed to the daily that the MP is still insisting on getting the interior portfolio which was part of Suleiman’s share in the government of Saad Hariri.

However, the FPM leader’s demand wasn’t the only obstacle to the cabinet formation process, the sources said, stressing that bickering over the Sunni, and Tripoli and Zahle representations wasn’t yet resolved.

Despite reports about Aoun’s adamancy to get the interior ministry, a source close to Berri said the portfolio will be allotted to an independent figure in a bid to eliminate the obstacle delaying the formation of the government.

“It seems they have found an unaffiliated figure to lead the interior ministry,” the source told the English-language The Daily Star. The source denied that the process stood in limbo. “Things are likely to get easier once (President Michel) Suleiman is back from his trip abroad.”

Furthermore, a source close to the process told the newspaper while the publicized reason delaying the formation of the cabinet was the tug-of-war between Suleiman and Aoun, the make-up of the cabinet will only be announced after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon publicly announces the indictment and the March 14 alliance wraps up a rally on that date to mark six years since its foundation.


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