Aoun Refuses to Back Down in Lebanese Squabble Over Ministerial Portfolios

Published October 2nd, 2018 - 02:16 GMT
President Michel Aoun will not be pressured by the government formation delay. (AFP/File)
President Michel Aoun will not be pressured by the government formation delay. (AFP/File)

President Michel Aoun will not be pressured by the government formation delay into accepting further concessions regarding the ministerial posts in the Cabinet that would typically be allocated by the president, according to remarks published Tuesday by local daily An-Nahar.

Speaking with visitors at Baabda Palace, Aoun reportedly said he is not “creating obstacles” in the formation. He explained that he had asked Premier-designate Saad Hariri to submit specific criteria for the ministerial shares each party will have, and that he had exercised his right in offering his opinion on Hariri’s draft formula.

On Sept. 3, Hariri presented Aoun with a draft Cabinet formula, but it failed to garner the president’s approval and therefore to break the government formation deadlock, which has entered its fifth month.

The president also expressed certainty that external pressures are contributing to the stall in the formation.

In Tuesday’s remarks, Aoun went on to assure his visitors that he will not interfere in the prime minister-designate's duties. But he will also not offer further concessions in the formation process. He already did so, he said, with the deputy premier’s position, which is normally assigned by the president. According to An-Nahar's report, he told visitors that he had been willing to let go of his claim on the position.

Aoun also said he had been misunderstood in a statement that was made on his way back from New York, where he had attended the United Nations General Assembly.

Last week, Aoun, apparently infuriated by the delay in the Cabinet formation, floated around a proposal for a majoritarian government in the case that Hariri was unable to form a national unity government. Speaking with journalists on his way back to Beirut, Aoun was also reported to have said that those who don’t want to join a such a government can stay out.

On Tuesday, Aoun clarified that what he had intended to do in the statement was urge Hariri to submit a formula that he views as acceptable. If any party were to reject a formula that both he and Hariri accept, including the Free Patriotic Movement, which Aoun founded, then that party can be excluded from the government.

Aoun said he will accept any formula if it reflected the results of the May 6 parliamentary elections or “any other set criteria.”

Finally, the visitors said Aoun showed optimism about the formation – the future Cabinet, he said, will fight corruption, implement an economic plan, provide electricity and apply the projects discussed at the CEDRE conference, held to support Lebanon’s infrastructure and economy.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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