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With March 14 Out: A Hizbullah-Technocrats-Centrists Cabinet to be Announced Soon
 
 
 
 
 
 
09-02-2011
 
Lebanon will soon have a government -- most likely to be made up of 24 ministers that include members of the Hizbullah-led March 8 camp as well as technocrats and centrists.
Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati met late Tuesday with President Michel Suleiman in hopes for a quick announcement of a Cabinet lineup.

The leading An-Nahar newspaper on Wednesday said talks between Suleiman and Miqati focused on a 24-strong Cabinet to be represented by centrists as well as March 8 and technocrats who together will make up the new majority.

It said the two men sifted through names, but added that the nature of the portfolio distribution and the distribution ratio remain unclear.

An-Nahar quoted sources close to Miqati as saying that the government is likely to be announced at the end of the week or early next week at the latest.

They confirmed that the new Cabinet will include "new faces as well as old faces from caretaker PM Saad Hariri's government."

They said Suleiman and Miqati would appoint the centrists.

The Syrian daily Al-Watan, however, said the government is likely to see light Wednesday evening or midday Thursday.

But Miqati stressed in separate remarks published Wednesday by An-Nahar and As-Safir newspapers that he was in no hurry to form a Cabinet.

"I will not restrict myself to a timeframe," Miqati said. "I'm aiming for a government that would satisfy everyone."
Pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, citing sources close to Miqati, said Wednesday that the premier-designate remains steadfast on his stand not to make any commitments to either political camp as that would make him lose his position as a centrist.

On Monday, Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel announced that March 14 will not take part in the government. He said talks with Miqati on the coalition's participation in the new Cabinet had reached a dead end.

Gemayel, a pillar in March 14, accused Hizbullah and its March 8 allies of seeking to unilaterally control the new government by putting forth terms and conditions that are impossible to meet.

Sources close to the premier-designate, however, cited Miqati's refusal to make a written pledge on a list of demands presented to him by Hariri's Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc as reason for March 14's decision not to participate.

Miqati was reportedly seeking to resolve and balance the conflicting demands of the political parties concerning the names and the distribution of portfolios.

Local media on Wednesday said a dispute between Suleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun over the interior ministry post was delaying the Cabinet lineup.

They said Aoun, who is in Aleppo to take part in celebrations marking St. Maroun Day, is likely to soften his stance after meetings with Syrian officials who will almost certainly urge him to facilitate the formation of a new government.
At the core of the political crisis is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is reportedly poised to indict Hizbullah members in the 2005 assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri.

Hizbullah had warned against such a move. The Shiite group has been pressuring Hariri for months to stop the tribunal before it forced the collapse of his government on January 12.

Among the demands put forth by Hariri's Mustaqbal bloc was a commitment from Miqati to support the STL and not end Lebanon's links with the tribunal by canceling the cooperation protocol. Hariri also sought a pledge from Miqati not to withdraw Lebanese judges and halt funding.
 
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