Report: Govt. Formation Efforts to Resume as Berri Contacts Suleiman

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Efforts to form a new government are set to kick off next week in light of the visit of caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour to Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, reported the daily An Nahar Sunday.

The meeting, held three days ago, are set to kick-start the government talks, it said while revealing the Speaker Nabih Berri had contacted President Michel Suleiman to that end.

It noted that the telephone call was the first form of direct contact between the two officials in 50 days.

Suleiman urged during the telephone call the speaker to speed up efforts to reach an agreement over a new parliamentary electoral law, added An Nahar.

Meanwhile, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat 's envoy, Abou Faour told the daily: “Salam has launched a new round of consultations to form a cabinet and he is not bound by any deadline.”

On Saturday, Suleiman met with Salam at the Baabda Palace to discuss the formation of a new government.

The premier-designate stressed that he is still keen on the establishment of a 24-minister cabinet that grants each of the three political blocs eight ministers.

He also repeated his rejection of granting any political camp veto power in a new government.

The March 8 camp has been demanding that it be granted such an authority in a cabinet, but Salam had said in the past that a cabinet with veto power would render it ineffective.

In addition, Salam's proposal of the 24-minister cabinet has been accepted by all powers, expect the March 8 alliance.

Furthermore, the efforts to form a new government are expected to encounter a new hurdle with the March 14 camp's refusal of Hizbullah's inclusion in the cabinet given its participation in the fighting alongside the regime in Syria.

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