Formation of Cabinet Process Reportedly Goes Back to ‘Square One’

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The process of the government formation has gone back to “square one” although the speeches of March 14 officials on ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination anniversary made it clear that the coalition won’t take part in Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s cabinet, informed political sources told An Nahar daily.

The newspaper ruled out the possibility of having a cabinet line-up ready by the end of February, saying Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun’s demands are crippling the government formation process despite efforts by some teams from the March 8 forces to facilitate Miqati’s task.

Furthermore, Aoun’s latest verbal attack on President Michel Suleiman created another obstacle to the government formation process, leading the head of state to hold onto the interior ministry more than before.

The FPM leader is insisting on getting the interior portfolio in addition to 11 other ministries.

The March 8 efforts to mediate between Aoun and Miqati materialized in a meeting between Speaker Nabih Berri’s advisor, MP Ali Hassan Khalil, and the FPM leader on Wednesday night.

Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil was delegated by Aoun to meet with Miqati again on Thursday.

Furthermore, As Safir daily said that Miqati met with Khalil, Bassil and Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s advisor, Hussein Khalil, at his residence in Verdun Thursday night.

The conferees agreed that Bassil would inform Aoun about the different point of views, including the possibility of giving the FPM leader’s bloc the foreign ministry in return for keeping the interior ministry with Caretaker Minister Ziad Baroud and giving Berri the defense portfolio instead of the foreign ministry.