Miqati Faces Hurdle of Christian Representation as Aoun Confirms he will Get ‘Sovereign’ Portfolio

Premier-designate Najib Miqati is reportedly facing stiff demands by Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun to be granted the majority of Christian seats in the new government.

Miqati’s brother, Taha, met with Aoun in Rabiyeh on Tuesday. An Nahar said that the FPM leader sent a message to the prime minister-designate that he wants a big share that “suits the size of his parliamentary bloc and his popular representation.”

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat said that Aoun is asking for the majority of Christian cabinet seats (11 ministers) and is demanding the right to give his opinion on the rest of the Christian representations.

Another demand is not to give President Michel Suleiman any share in the government, a request that the remaining March 8 forces are making, al-Hayat said.

The newspaper said that Aoun insists on giving the interior ministry portfolio to an FPM member of his choice.

The daily quoted sources following up contacts aimed removing obstacles hindering the cabinet formation process as saying that Miqati is facing demands by Aoun, his ally Marada movement leader Suleiman Franjieh and President Suleiman to be given the interior ministry.

Suleiman reportedly prefers to keep the portfolio as part of his share in the cabinet out of keenness on the political balance in the country.

When asked by the Qatari al-Watan daily if he is demanding to get a “sovereign” portfolio, Aoun said: “Of course I will get a sovereign portfolio. There are four sovereign portfolios: the defense, foreign, finance and interior” ministries.

As Safir daily also said that Franjieh is asking for a portfolio given that Marada’s representative in the last cabinet was a state minister. Franjieh believes that his movement has the right to get two ministers if a 32-member government was formed.

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