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Lebanon’s Cabinet Formation Gets More Complicated as Politicians Fail to Resolve Differences

Lebanon’s Cabinet Formation Gets More Complicated as Politicians Fail to Resolve Differences

Monday, 13 January, 2020 - 08:30
Protesters chant slogans as they hold national flags during ongoing protests against the Lebanese political class, at a road leading to the parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Lebanon entered this week a new phase of political uncertainty that returned the mission of PM-designate Hassan Diab in forming a new cabinet to square one.

Political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that the impasse is caused by disputes mainly between caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Diab on ministerial shares.

“This phase is more complicated than the one preceding the nominating of Diab,” the sources said.

They also spoke about a disagreement between Diab and President Michel Aoun, while some differences have emerged between the PM-designate and Speaker Nabih Berri and between the designated premier and head of the Marada Movement Suleiman Franjieh.

“Franjieh and Berri are trying to prevent Bassil from controlling the next cabinet,” the sources said, accusing the caretaker FM of acting as the government “owner,” a behavior rejected by Diab.

The sources said that Diab is now trying to fix his relationship with Berri, who lately threatened to boycott the new cabinet if the designated PM places new conditions on the distribution of portfolios.

“If Franjieh and Hezbollah back Berri’s position and refuse to take part in the new cabinet, then how would the new government be formed?” they asked.

The stalemate comes amid contacts between Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who promised to attend a parliamentary session on the 2020 budget expected to be held at the end of January.

Hariri is on a family visit in Paris since December 29.

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