Lebanese Speaker Berri Dismayed Cabinet Deadlock Back to 'Square One'

Published October 8th, 2018 - 09:29 GMT
Speaker Nabih Berri. (AFP PHOTO)
Speaker Nabih Berri. (AFP PHOTO)

Speaker Nabih Berri said the government formation process has returned to square one, after Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil toughened his stance on the Lebanese Forces’ Cabinet share.

"We're back to zero," Berri told Al-Akhbar newspaper in an article published Saturday. "There were signs of progress, but after yesterday's remarks, I'm not so sure."

The problem of Christian representation is one of the main stumbling blocks to the Cabinet formation, with the LF and the FPM having been embroiled in a fierce struggle for shares in the coming government for more than four months.

Bassil said in a televised news conference Friday that the LF should not be allocated more than three ministers despite having boosted its MPs from eight to 15 in the May elections.

Bassil offered the FPM’s recommendations for a 30-member Cabinet breakdown. He said they were based on a criteria set across the board by dividing the 128 MPs in Parliament by the 30 ministerial posts. “For every five MPs, the party should get one minister,” he said, which the LF categorically rejected.

The LF believes that because they gained one-third of the Christian popular representation, it deserves one-third of the ministerial representation in the Cabinet in both number and significance. The party is demanding five ministerial posts or one-third of the 15 ministerial posts set aside for Christians in a 30-member Cabinet.

Bassil’s remarks all but snuffed out Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's optimism that a government could be formed in the coming week.

In an interview with MTV channel Thursday night, Hariri called on political leaders to make concessions, saying he hoped that a government would be formed in seven to 10 days. He said his optimism came a result of the “positive talks” he had held with President Michel Aoun Wednesday, in the first encounter between them since Hariri presented the president with his first draft Cabinet formula on Sept. 3.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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