Miqati’s Cabinet Not Looming in Horizon Amid FPM’s Demands

Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s cabinet formation efforts were in tatters on Monday after the Free Patriotic Movement suggested giving up its demands for the interior ministry in return for getting the finance portfolio.

“We were at first demanding the finance portfolio but we met the demands to keep it with the Sunni sect and suggested getting the interior (ministry) instead,” Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil told As Safir daily in remarks published Monday.

“If this issue is creating a deadlock too, then we can immediately solve it by getting the finance (portfolio) in return for giving up the interior (ministry) in favor of Sunnis,” Bassil, who is FPM leader Michel Aoun’s son-in-law, said.

This condition, in addition to President Michel Suleiman’s travel to the Vatican on Tuesday and to Kuwait later in the week, are expected to delay the formation of Miqati’s government.

Miqati’s sources told An Nahar daily that the cabinet formation process has reached a standstill but said contacts and consultations between the prime minister-designate and different parties were still on.

The premier-designate held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri’s advisor MP Ali Hassan Khalil on Sunday but no progress was made on consultations to form the cabinet.

Sources following up the cabinet formation process told As Safir that the government might witness light this week but informed political sources told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that “Suleiman won’t give up” to Aoun’s demands to get the interior portfolio and won’t sign a decree of a cabinet” that doesn’t suit him.

Such insistence by both sides is expected to delay the formation of the government.

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