Formation of new Lebanese government delayed

Special Formation of new Lebanese government delayed
Hundreds of Lebanese take to street calling for an end to a stalemate over forming a government seven months after elections, on Dec. 16. (AP)
Updated 22 December 2018

Formation of new Lebanese government delayed

Formation of new Lebanese government delayed
  • “President Aoun’s candidate has to be committed to the president,” said Yacoub Sarraf, defense minister in the caretaker government and a loyal supporter of the president.

BEIRUT: The six Sunni deputies allied with Hezbollah have opposed the candidate Jawad Adra, whom they had agreed earlier as their representative in the next Lebanese government, which has hampered the formation of the government.

According to the initiative put forward by President Michel Aoun, Adra would have entered the government as a member of the president’s bloc after the prime minister-designate, Saad Hariri, refused to have the minister in his bloc. Adra did not attend the meeting called on Friday by the six deputies to inform him of the need to abide by their position, which is that although he would be part of the president’s bloc, he would represent the position of the six deputies rather than that of the President in the government.

The Lebanese media reported that the six deputies were “deceived,” while the pro-Hezbollah media accused Gebran Bassil, minister of foreign affairs, of “trying to have Adra join the Strong Lebanon bloc, which may set back the formation of a government.”

“President Aoun’s candidate has to be committed to the president,” said Yacoub Sarraf, defense minister in the caretaker government and a loyal supporter of the president.

The pro-Hezbollah “Al-Akhbar” daily reported that: “The choice of the name of Adra, among the many names put forward by the six deputies, came out of Hezbollah’s and the Amal movement’s wish to satisfy Aoun, who made the offer of a ministerial seat, by proposing someone with a good relationship with him (the president) and Bassi, instead of choosing a member of the March 8 Alliance.”

It is worth noting that Adra was proposed by one of the six deputies, Qasim Hashim, who is a member of the parliamentary bloc of Speaker Nabih Berri.

Parliamentary sources told Arab News that the main problem is “the question of who gets the ‘blocking third’ in the government, that is, who is the decision-maker. It is a secret conflict between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, who are supposed to be political allies according to a previous agreement.”

President Aoun, Minister Gebran Bassil and General Director of Public Security Major General Abbas Ibrahim met on Sunday in the presidential palace. 

Major General Ibrahim was commissioned by Aoun a few days ago to publicize his initiative to resolve the Sunni problem inside the government. 

Ibrahim was able to convince the six deputies to name an external figure to represent them in the government because of Prime Minister Hariri’s refusal to accept one of them.

Speaker Nabih Berri also met Prime Minister Hariri in private.

At the end of these meetings, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim said he had completed his mission “and the ball is now in the court of political forces.”

The name of Ali Hamad has emerged as a substitute for Adra. Hamad is the director of presidential affairs in the Lebanese Parliament, and his name had been proposed by MP Qasim Hashim as an alternative to Adra to represent the six deputies.

The parliamentary sources pointed to a second problem that may face the process of forming the government. This “concerns the distribution of ministerial portfolios and the desire of certain parties to replace some portfolios with others. The problem revolves around the of the Media, Environment, Culture, Industry, Agriculture and Works ministries.”

Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, tweeted that “It seems that the national unity government is no longer recognized locally. After consultation, there seems to be a need for further consultation.”