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Consultations on Lebanon’s Cabinet Formation Underway

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Local Editor

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri arrived at Parliament Monday morning to begin consultations with Lebanon's parliamentary blocs and independent lawmakers over the formation of the new Cabinet.

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri

Hariri met with Speaker Nabih Berri just after 11 a.m., as an initial step before expanding his consultations.

Last Thursday, Hariri was named prime minister-designate by a presidential decree, after gaining the support of 111 out of 128 MPs following binding consultations with President Michel Aoun.

After his meeting with Berri, Hariri held separate meetings with former prime ministers Najib Mikati and Tammam Salam.

Speaking after his meeting with Hariri, Salam played down the possibility of his taking up a ministerial post, expressing his support for Hariri's plan to enforce a clean separation between Parliament and Cabinet.

Salam also warned against undue hastiness in government formation, saying that it was vital for the new government's ministers to be chosen carefully.

Hariri went on to meet with Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli.

After the meeting, Ferzli said that although it would be a good thing for the future Cabinet to be inclusive of all political perspectives, having an opposition in Parliament remained a necessity.

"I can't picture a Parliament without an opposition in it," the deputy speaker said, although he denied that his comments were designating any political party in particular as the potential opposition.

Concluding his meeting with Ferzli, Hariri embarked on a series of sit-downs with parliamentary blocs, beginning with the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, which is headed by Berri. He then met with his own Future bloc.

Speaking as Future's representative, MP Bahia Hariri said that the bloc had told the premier-designate of its request that women be represented in the new Cabinet.

Bahia Hariri also said that the bloc had insisted that the new government should include 30 ministers or less.

Prime Minister-designate Hariri met afterwards with the Free Patriotic Movement's Strong Lebanon bloc, headed by Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Before the sit-down with Hariri, the bloc held a coordination meeting, local media reported.

Bassil said that the Strong Lebanon bloc was looking to hold either the Interior or Finance ministerial portfolio, signaling that one of the bloc's main demands was the rotation of ministries.

Hariri also met with the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, Democratic Gathering bloc and the Marada Movement's National bloc.

Hariri's consultations are scheduled to end at around 4:30 p.m.

Different political parties and parliamentary blocs have announced that they hope for a rapid government formation, given the regional turmoil and the economic situation in the country.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team