Speculation on Hariri-Bassil Meeting as 'Marada Obstacle' Surfaces
Any progress in the Cabinet formation process is hinging on the outcome of the expected meeting between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil, informed sources told al-Hayat daily.
Noting that an “agreement” has been reached between Hariri and each of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat on the Christian and Druze representation in the government, sources following up on Hariri's efforts said “the problem is now revolving around what Bassil wants and what Hariri might suggest.”
The sources confirmed to al-Hayat that “Bassil wants 10 or 11 ministers for the FPM and the president, with seven or six going to the FPM and four to the president.”
“He wants most of the key portfolios for those named by his camp,” the sources added.
In remarks to Kuwait's al-Jarida newspaper, political sources meanwhile ruled out a Hariri-Bassil meeting in the next two days.
“Communication between the two men was completely severed a few days ago, which indicates the presence of conflicting viewpoints between Hariri and the President over the powers of each of them regarding the formation process,” the sources said.
The sources added that in addition to the Christian and Druze obstacles, a new obstacle related to Marada Movement's representation has emerged.
“Caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos has told Hariri during a meeting that Marada chief Suleiman Franjieh rejects settling for only one portfolio for his movement and that he is insisting on another portfolio that could go to a Sunni or Christian figure,” the sources said.
The candidates for this second portfolio are MP Jihad al-Samad and MP Farid al-Khazen, the sources added.