Lebanon News

Lebanon Cabinet beckons after major hurdle overcome: sources

BEIRUT: Lebanon is one step closer to having a new Cabinet after parties agreed on a candidate for the Interior Ministry portfolio Wednesday, a senior March 8 source told The Daily Star online.

“Parties have agreed on the name of the consensus candidate for the Interior Ministry portfolio,” the source said, adding that the individual was a Lebanese Army general.

The source also said that an expanded meeting among party representatives of the new majority would hold a meeting with Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati shortly to finalize the allocation of portfolios in the proposed 30-member Cabinet.

Lebanon has been under a caretaker government since mid-January, when ministers of the Hezbollah-backed March 8 resigned from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Cabinet, forcing its collapse. Tripoli MP Mikati, who was nominated by the March 8 alliance to form the new government, was appointed prime minister-designate on Jan. 25.

The news of a breakthrough in the stalled Cabinet formation came after a day of intensive negotiations among leading political figures in the country.

Upgraded efforts to break the almost four-month long Cabinet deadlock had started earlier in the week following strong Syrian pressure on March 8 parties to speed up the government’s formation.

President Michel Sleiman had held separate talks with Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri earlier Wednesday at Baabda. Sources said the meetings were positive and had advanced the formation process.

Berri, who arrived at Baabda Palace around 11:00 a.m., left without making any statement. He had told reporters upon arrival that the “atmosphere is better than before.”

Minutes after Berri left, Mikati turned up and held talks with Sleiman. He also declined to talk to reporters following the meeting, the second between Mikati and Sleiman in less than 24 hours.

 

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