Lebanon Cabinet Lineup Negotiations Get an Official Kickoff
Serious negotiations on the formation of a new government will accelerate on Monday after Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s return from a short visit to Saudi Arabia.
As the PM prepares to kick off talks on the formation of his new cabinet, a meeting was held Friday between Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah to discuss the lineup and ties between the two parties in the coming phase.
Sources informed about the meeting told Asharq Al-Awsat that in addition to tackling general political issues, Nasrallah discussed with Bassil some of the FPM chief’s stances which were not deemed satisfactory by the Shi’ite party, particularly on Speaker Nabih Berri, who is a Hezbollah ally.
The sources said that during the talks, Nasrallah and Bassil assessed the previous phase.
Bassil justified that some of the stances he had made at that stage “had electoral purposes,” according to the sources.
Meanwhile, Hariri’s sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the PM-designate would not reach any concrete results on the cabinet lineup in the coming days, but said a solution could emerge concerning the Lebanese Forces’ demand to be allocated the same number of portfolios as the FPM.
The sources said that Bassil and Nasrallah agreed to keep the distribution of sovereign portfolios the same as in the caretaker government: the Finance Ministry going to an Amal Movement representative, the Interior Ministry to be led by a Mustaqbal Movement minister, the Defense Ministry to be from the share of the President and the Foreign Ministry to go to the FPM.
In return, Hezbollah asked to take an important portfolio, either the Energy, the Health, the Public Works or the Education ministries.
In a statement issued Sunday, the FPM Media Bureau said that the Nasrallah-Bassil meeting focused on "the domestic and foreign political situation, in addition to evaluating the results of the recent parliamentary elections, taking into account all positive and negative lessons learned.”