Lebanese gov’t to be drawn up within days: PM-designate

By Wassim Seifeddine

BEIRUT (AA) – A state of cautious optimism now prevails among Lebanon’s leading political forces after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s assertion that he was close to unveiling a new cabinet lineup.

Hariri on Thursday said he was “confident” that a new government — representing all of Lebanon’s main ethno-religious segments — would be unveiled within the next 10 days.

"We may be in the final stages of forming a government, as long as we adopt the right criteria," Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said at a Friday press conference.

"Everyone must make genuine concessions; we are aiming for a government of national unity," Bassil, who also leads Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement, said.

Rola Tabash Jaroudi, an MP for Lebanon’s Future Bloc, told Anadolu Agency that Hariri's assertion suggested that the country’s main political parties were working in concert.

"Hariri’s positive assertions indicate that a degree of consensus has been reached," she said.

And Bilal al-Abdullah, an MP for the Lebanese Socialist Party, told Anadolu Agency: “We hope Hariri's stated optimism about forming a government is well-founded.”

Al-Abdullah voiced his party’s willingness to make concessions in the government-formation process — as long as other parties were willing to do the same.

Ali Khreis, an MP for Lebanon’s Amal Movement, for his part, warned that delays in forming the next government would reflect negatively on the country’s social and economic situation.

"We must build a nation based on justice and equality, not on sectarian quotas and political positions," Khreis said.

Following parliamentary polls held in May, President Michel Aoun tasked Hariri, the leader of Lebanon’s Future Movement, with drawing up a new government.

Formation of the government, however, has been repeatedly postponed amid mutual recriminations and demands by certain parties for greater representation.

According to Lebanon’s constitution, the prime minister does not have a deadline for unveiling a new cabinet lineup.

As it currently stands, government posts are shared between the country’s main ethno-religious groupings, with six cabinet portfolios reserved for Sunni Muslims, six for Shia Muslims, and three for Druze.