Arslan Meets Jumblat, Hopes Consultations Will Be Postponed to Allow Agreement on New PM

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat held talks on Wednesday with Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan on naming a new prime minister-designate.

Arslan said after the talks: “We hope that the parliamentary consultations over naming a new premier will be postponed in order to pave way for an agreement over a candidate.”

“We hope an agreement will be reached over a consensual prime minister-designate,” he said after the meeting that was held at his Khaldeh residence.

“Contacts and coordination with Jumblat are always ongoing over various issues,” stressed the MP.

“I will continue to coordinate stances with Jumblat on numerous issues that concern Mount Lebanon and national interests,” he said after the 30-minute meeting.

For his part, Jumblat made a brief statement, emphasizing the unity of Mount Lebanon.

He said that he will refrain from making political statements before his interview on LBCI television on Thursday night.

Al-Jadeed television later reported that the two MPs failed to reach an agreement over a candidate to assume the premiership.

Jumblat was accompanied on his visit by ministers Wael Abou Faour and Ghazi al-Aridi and MP Akram Shehayyeb.

The binding parliamentary consultations with President Michel Suleiman to appoint a new prime minister are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Baabda Palace.

Intense talks between various rival political blocs had been taking place in recent days ahead of the consultations in order for them to reach a united position over naming a new prime minister-designate.

The March 8 camp held talks on Wednesday at Speaker Nabih Berri's residence at Ain el-Tineh in order to coordinate its stances ahead of the consultations.

Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh said after the talks: “We will head to the consultations with a united position over a new prime minister-designate.”

March 14 opposition alliance lawmakers are meanwhile scheduled to hold a meeting at the Center House to take a final stance on the person they will name for the premiership, informed sources said Wednesday.

While the sources did not reveal to An Nahar newspaper when the meeting will be held, high-ranking al-Mustaqbal Movement officials told As Safir that the final decision on the opposition’s candidate will be made on Thursday night.

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