Naharnet

Miqati Frustrated over Attempts to Throw Cabinet Deadlock Ball in his Court

Premier-designate Najib Miqati rejected attempts to throw the cabinet delay ball in his court, deciding to give consultations more time after Speaker Nabih Berri informed him that a de facto government would lead to negative repercussions, As Safir daily reported Monday.

Miqati’s circles told the newspaper that Miqati complied with the demand of Berri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat to back off from a plan to announce a de facto cabinet.

As Safir said the speaker informed the prime minister-designate that such a government would be dangerous locally because the reaction of parties seeking to participate in the cabinet would be sharp.

High-ranking Free Patriotic Movement sources told the daily that attempts to sum up the government crisis in FPM leader Michel Aoun’s demand for the interior ministry portfolio was aimed at covering up the real reasons behind the delay.

The sources also stressed that any agreement on the name of the person who would lead the ministry does not mean that the government would be immediately formed because there are a lot of other obstacles that need solutions.

Among the obstacles is Miqati’s rejection to give the FPM both the telecommunications and energy portfolios. The premier-designate has also vetoed Caretaker Telecom Minister Charbel Nahhas and is seeking to include a Druze minister in Aoun’s share, they said.

Other obstacles include MP Talal Arslan’s demand for a “sovereign” portfolio and disagreement on the identity of the former Sunni opposition’s representative, the sources added.

Despite the alleged complications, Miqati continued his consultations with the involved officials to form the new cabinet. He held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri’s aide, MP Ali Hassan Khalil, and Caretaker Minister Mohammed Safadi on Sunday night.

Berri also met with Khalil and Safadi.

The local meetings came amid talks that Khalil and the Hizbullah leader’s assistant Hussein Khalil held with Syrian officials in Damascus.

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat said that the visit of the two men reflects a “willingness to test Syrian intentions from the formation of the cabinet to confirm that Damascus supports a speeded formation process unlike reports in Beirut that the delay is caused by regional and international” events.


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