Salam in Talks with Rival Blocs, Seeks Formation of Cabinet ahead of February

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam is holding talks with various parliamentary blocs to bridge the gap between the rival parties and end the political stalemate in the country.

Al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Thursday that Salam and President Michel Suleiman are seeking the formation of a neutral cabinet to avoid vacuum if a political government wasn't formed ahead of February.

Sources told the newspaper that the two officials are seeking the approval of the political foes in order to save the country from any vacuum if the rival parties weren't able to elect a president within the constitutional timeframe.

Suleiman's six-year tenure ends in May 2014, but the constitutional period to elect a new head of state begins on March 25, two months prior to the expiration of the president's mandate.

According to the daily Salam is discussing the matter with the rival blocs away from media spot light.

However, An Nahar newspaper reported that Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat is holding onto his proposal to form a new cabinet in which the March 8 and 14 alliances would get nine ministers each and six ministers would be given to the centrists – Suleiman, Salam and Jumblat.

This formula, which Hizbullah agreed on, prevents a certain party from controlling the government by giving veto power to Hizbullah and its team and another veto power to March 14, he said.

Salam was appointed in April but has so far been unable to put together a government over the conditions and counter conditions set by the rivals parties as fears mount that the differences between the March 8 and 14 camps would lead to a vacuum the presidential post.

An Nahar daily said that Suleiman insists on the formation of a new cabinet to oversee the upcoming presidential election.

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