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Lebanese Parliamentary Consultations Begin Monday as Khatib’s Nomination Comes into Question

Lebanese Parliamentary Consultations Begin Monday as Khatib’s Nomination Comes into Question

Thursday, 5 December, 2019 - 10:45
President Michel Aoun (L) and PM-designate Saad al-Hariri attend a military parade to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Lebanon's independence in Beirut, Lebanon November 22, 2018. (Reuters)

A recent agreement on the nomination of Engineer Samir al-Khatib for the premiership was further complicated by a controversy between the country’s former prime ministers and President Michel Aoun over constitutional powers, and renewed protests in the street.

Although the Baabda Palace announced that the binding parliamentary consultations would be held on Monday, political sources noted that solutions were only “written on paper” and not approved by politicians, pointing that delaying the consultations for additional four days was an indication of complications.

The political sources said that the initial consensus on Khatib was still open to all possibilities, adding that the positive atmosphere could be dissipated by two factors: the renewal of street protests and doubts surrounding the composition of the new government, “which looks so similar to the old cabinet, with some minor alteration.”

Meanwhile, a Lebanese ministerial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri was still supportive of Khatib’s nomination to head the new government. They added that Hariri would name experts to assume portfolios in the cabinet, out of his conviction that the current stage required a government of technocrats to create a “positive shock”, meet the demands of the street and salvage the economy.

The source said that Hariri’s recent meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri’s political aide, caretaker Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, and Hezbollah Secretary General’s political assistant Hussein Khalil was “positive.”

Well-informed sources said that the government would be composed of 24 ministers, including five Sunnis and five Shiites, two Druze ministers, five Maronites, four Orthodox, two Catholics and one Armenian.

They added that the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) would not participate in the government as a political party, but would name one non-partisan Druze figure to assume a key ministry. The other Druze seat will go to the civil movement, according to the sources.

The Shiite seats will be shared by the Amal Movement and Hezbollah, while Hariri would nominate a Sunni professional to take over a portfolio. Two Sunni seats will go to the civil movement, in addition to the prime minister, while a fifth Sunni figure remains unresolved.

As for the Christian seats, the quota of Lebanese Forces (three ministers) will go to the civil movement, which will name its own figures, the sources said.

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