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Miqati ‘Liberates’ Telecom Ministry from ‘Troublemaker’ Nahhas

Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has allegedly accepted to give up his demand to keep Caretaker Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas in his post after being pressured by his allies.

Al-Liwaa daily said that a settlement was reached between Aoun and Premier-designate Najib Miqati who succeeded in “liberating” the telecom ministry from “the grip of troublemaker” Nahhas and allotting the labor portfolio to him instead.

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Suleiman Upset by Aoun’s Conditions, Says he Would Name his Ministers Only when Lineup is Ready

President Michel Suleiman has clearly announced his rejection of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun’s attempts to impose on him a candidate for the second Maronite minister that is part of his share in the new cabinet.

Baabda palace sources told al-Liwaa newspaper published Friday that “Suleiman rejects preconditions set by any side on his choice of his representatives in the government.”

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Miqati Slams Geagea, Says the Cabinet is for All Lebanese

Sources close to Premier-designate Najib Miqati snapped back at Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Friday saying the new cabinet will be a government for all the Lebanese.

Miqati “waited for the March 14 team around two months to participate in the cabinet and he still calls for the participation of everyone,” the sources told An Nahar daily.

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Geagea for Technocrat Cabinet, Says March 8 Rejects to Consolidate the State

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused the March 8 forces on Thursday of seeking to consolidate Hizbullah rather than forming a strong state.

“Some of them consider their party essential and (use) the rest of the state’s institutions to support the resistance,” Geagea told reporters in Maarab.

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Jumblat Meets Assad: Forming New Govt Boosts Lebanon, Syria Stability

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat held talks Thursday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, in the presence of caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi.

During the meeting, Jumblat “voiced his hope that Syria will be able to overcome this critical period in its history through endorsing the reforms launched by President Assad,” according to a statement issued by the PSP following the Druze leader’s return to Beirut.

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Arslan Insists on Getting a Portfolio

Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan said that a meeting held between March 8 officials in parliament on Wednesday focused on solving the obstacles that are delaying the cabinet formation.

Arslan told As Safir newspaper on Thursday that hints that a dispute between President Michel Suleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun was obstructing the formation of the government are “not true.”

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Miqati Expected to Visit Suleiman, Names of President’s Ministers Left for Last Minute

Premier-designate Najib Miqati is expected to visit Baabda palace on Thursday to inform President Michel Suleiman about the latest developments in the cabinet formation process.

An Nahar newspaper said that Miqati held an extensive telephone conversation with Suleiman on Wednesday to update them him about the results of his talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun at parliament and a meeting he held later in the day with Caretaker Minister Jebran Bassil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s aide MP Ali Hassan Khalil and Hassan Khalil, who is Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s assistant.

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Reports: Eight Officials Met in Parliament in ‘Calculated Step’ to Restore Ties with Berri

A meeting held in parliament between top March 8 officials was planned and aimed at consolidating the new parliamentary majority which hasn’t been able to form a cabinet since Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s nomination in January, media reports Thursday.

The meeting was held on Wednesday on the sidelines of a legislative session and gathered Speaker Nabih Berri, Miqati, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat, head of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad, Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, head of the Lebanese Democratic Party MP Talal Arslan and chief of the Syrian Social National Party Assaad Hardan.

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Miqati and Aoun Agree Not to Impose or Veto Any Name in Cabinet

Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil has unveiled that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and Premier-designate Najib Miqati agreed not to veto any candidate proposed by the other to cabinet seats.

“We completed the distribution (of shares) and portfolios and we reached the final stage which is the stage of names whereby no name would be imposed or rejected or vetoed,” Bassil told An Nahar daily in remarks published Thursday.

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Cabinet’s Photo Expected to be Taken Soon as Lineup Reaches Final Stages

The protocol picture marking the advent of Najib Miqati's government could be taken at the doorsteps of the Baabda Palace over the weekend after major parties overcame the main hurdles preventing the formation of the cabinet.

On Thursday, the media sounded optimistic about the possible formation of the government in the next few days after the leaders of the March 8 forces held ice-breaking talks a day earlier.

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