Aoun in Dubai as Government Formation still Stuck over Interior Ministry Portfolio


The political consultations over the government formation have entered a “truce” after Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s departure for Dubai on Friday, said a source monitoring the government formation process.

The consultations will resume as soon as Aoun returns from his trip, revealing that the meeting between Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati, Hizbullah official al-Hajj Hussein al-Khalil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s advisor MP Ali Hasan Khalil, and caretaker minister Jebran Bassil on Thursday led to an agreement over methods to end the deadlock over the government formation.

It said that one of the solutions lies in granting Aoun ten ministers instead of 12, including the interior and education ministries portfolios.

He will have to relinquish the telecommunications ministry portfolio in favor of a Sunni minister chosen by Miqati

The other solution calls for granting a centrist group 11 ministers whereby President Michel Suleiman will be given two portfolios, National Struggle Front leader MP Walid Jumblat will be given three, and Miqati will be granted six.

The FPM will be granted ten portfolios, the Marada Movement two, AMAL four, and Hizbullah three.

The two solutions include the formation of a 30-minister Cabinet, added the source.

It noted that the last meeting between Aoun and caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud has not led to an agreement over who should acquire the ministry.

“Suleiman is committed to reappointing Baroud as a minister, whether in the same ministry or not,” it added.

“The President is also keen on granting the defense and interior ministries to a neutral minister,” it said.

Meanwhile, Miqati’s sources told the daily An Nahar in remarks published on Saturday: “The premier-designate’s primary concern is forming the government and nothing else.”

“Any camp has the right to explain matters as it wishes, but they have no right to usurp the opinions of the residents of Tripoli who have voiced their opinions on more than one occasion,” they noted.

“Miqati’s circles are adopting silence over developments over the government as the process has returned to the stagnant stage due to Aoun’s insistence on acquiring the interior ministry portfolio, meaning he is opposed to Baroud’s reappointment to his position,” they said.

“He is also insisting on naming 12 Christian ministers therefore exceeding the number allowed for a blocking minority, which Miqati had stated is not even allowed by the constitution … and he is not prepared to form a government that does not adhere to his convictions,” they stated.

The Central News Agency reported from new majority sources on Friday that it has set next week as a deadline as the latest possible date to form the government.

Miqati was informed that should a Cabinet fail to be formed, then Aoun and Hizbullah will discuss a solution with National Struggle Front leader MP Walid Jumblat and Syrian officials “seeing as the delay in the formation has started to take its toll in and outside Lebanon.”