Lebanon’s prime minister designate Fuad Siniora was Monday seeking new coalition partners for his government after negotiations to bring in the party of Christian former general Michel Aoun collapsed.
“It is impossible to respond to the demands of Michel Aoun concerning the ministries that his movement would like to have,” said Siniora, who is tasked with forming the first government since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement had insisted in talks with Siniora’s Future Movement -- led by Saad Hariri -- that it be given the ministry of justice to put in place reform and an anti-corruption drive.
However, Hariri rejected the call in public, saying the Future Movement needed to control the ministry amid the ongoing inquiry into the February 14 assassination of his father, the former prime minister and tycoon Rafik Al-Hariri.
This prompted Aoun to tell Hariri that his bloc of 21 MPs, which swept the third round of Lebanon’s elections for central areas, would not be taking part in the government. The Future Movement heads the biggest bloc in Lebanon’s parliament with 37 seats after the four-round election process, which wrapped up last month.
Meanwhile, Shiite movement Hizbullah said it was seeking cabinet posts for the first time in the new Lebanese government. "It has become our right to participate directly and not just through our allies, in the decision-making process," said Mohammed Raad, head of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc, which holds 14 of the legislature's 128 seats.
According to AFP, fellow Hizbullah MP Mohammed Fneish, said the movement was seeking "two cabinet posts".
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )