Michel Suleiman
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Miqati’s Circles Deny PM-Designate Under International Pressure

Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s circles denied that the international community was pressuring the billionaire businessman, saying ambassadors meeting with him are only hoping that he would form a balanced cabinet that would preserve stability in Lebanon.

Miqati asked the diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly, to judge him only after the formation of the government, the circles said.

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Jumblat Accuses March 14 of Taking Lebanon into ‘War of Civilizations’

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat accused the March 14 forces of taking the country into a “war of civilizations,” saying that President Michel Suleiman isn’t an ally when it comes to government formation or parliamentary elections.

In remarks to al-Akhbar daily, Jumblat described his relations with the March 8 forces, including Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, as based on an alliance.

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Miqati Regrets March 14 Boycott, Keen on Forming Cabinet Suitable for the State

Premier-designate Najib Miqati expressed regret at the March 14 coalition’s decision to boycott the new government but said he would form a cabinet that is worthy of representing the state.

In remarks to An Nahar daily published Monday, Miqati said he was on the verge of agreeing with March 14 when the alliance announced it would not participate in the cabinet.

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Berri Says March 14 Campaign Against Hizbullah’s Arms Has No Prospect

Speaker Nabih Berri stressed that the cabinet formation process is not facing problems that cannot be solved and denied that the March 8 forces were rejecting to give President Michel Suleiman shares in the government.

“No one, including (FPM leader) Michel Aoun is rejecting to give President Suleiman a share,” Berri told As Safir daily in remarks published Monday. “However, there are (different) point of views on the type” of shares.

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Aoun’s Ministers, MPs Withdrew from Ceremony Honoring Sfeir because Geagea was Seated in Front Row

Saturday’s ceremony honoring outgoing Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir garnered the majority of the political sides in Lebanon with the noted absence of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun.

The ceremony was marked by the withdrawal of FPM ministers Jebran Bassil and Fadi Abboud, as well as MP Alain Aoun, because Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was seated in the front row along with ministers from his bloc.

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Consultations Have Reached Negative Stalling Phase, Government Birth May Extend until End of March

Political circles monitoring the government formation process revealed that three obstacles are hindering the formation of the new Cabinet.

They told the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa newspaper that the first of these obstacles is Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s insistence on acquiring the interior ministry portfolio from President Michel Suleiman.

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Bellemare’s Requests Included Names of Electric Meter Owners, Copies of Telecommunications Data

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare’s requests from the ministries of interior, public works, telecommunications, and energy have become the center of attention of the concerned sides, as it was revealed that he had also requested official copies of telecommunications data from the Alfa and MTC mobile phone providers, as well as the fingerprints of Lebanese individuals and information on electric meter owners.

Ministerial sources in the caretaker government told the daily An Nahar in remarks published on Friday that these requests are being studied under legal experts, adding that the Ministry of Justice contacted the prosecutor to determine the consequences of the ministries’ refusal to cooperate with him.

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Williams after Meeting Bassil: Demarcating Maritime Border Should Stand as Obstacle for Drilling for Oil

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams revealed on Thursday that the international organization is currently studying the best way to assist Lebanon in drilling for petroleum in the Mediterranean and demarcating its maritime border.

He made his statements after holding talks with Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil on the political situation in Lebanon and the economic challenges facing it, as well as the government formation process.

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Miqati Proposes Several Formulas to Suleiman Amid Conflicting Reports on Franjieh-Aoun Meeting

Najib Miqati’s circles have said that the premier-designate is discussing with President Michel Suleiman several cabinet formulas, adding that the head of state is an “essential constitutional partner in the cabinet formation” process and has every right to give his opinion on the issue.

The circles criticized political parties that are making accusations against Suleiman, saying this would hinder the formation of the government.

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Council of Maronite Bishops: Synod to Elect New Patriarch on March 9

The Council of Maronite Bishops announced on Wednesday that the Synod of Maronite bishops will meet starting March 9 at 6:00 pm to elect a new patriarch.

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir who is holding the post since 1986. The 90-year-old cardinal cited his old age in comments to the Lebanese media when he handed in his resignation.

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