BEIRUT: Syria is piling pressure on its allies in Lebanon to bring the stalled Cabinet formation process to a quick conclusion, a March 8 source told The Daily Star online Tuesday.
“High-level Syrian officials have been in direct contact with March 8 figures this week to urge the government be formed within the next few days,” the source said.
Lebanon has been under a caretaker government since mid-January, when ministers of the Hezbollah-backed March 8 coalition resigned from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Cabinet, forcing its collapse. Tripoli MP Najib Mikati, who was nominated by the March 8 alliance to form the new government, was appointed prime minister-designate on Jan. 25.
Mikati has faced hurdles in his attempts to form the new government, namely a dispute between President Michel Sleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, a member of the March 8 coalition, over the Interior Ministry portfolio. Aoun insists that the Interior Ministry be allotted as part of his share in the new Cabinet.
The source said March 8 leaders had held indirect consultations among themselves in an attempt to find a solution to the impasse by finding a consensus candidate for the Interior Ministry post that is acceptable to Sleiman and Mikati.
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt issued a harsh criticism of his allies in the March 8 camp Monday, saying the new majority had utterly failed in its attempts to form the Cabinet and adding that his party and parliamentary bloc could no longer cover for the ongoing stagnation.