Hezbollah rejects Hariri government lineup
Lebanese prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri handed the president his proposed line-up for a national unity government yesterday, in a move swiftly rejected by opposition groups including the powerful Hezbollah.
I do not think that the method employed today takes Lebanon out of the government formation crisis. On the contrary, it further complicates the problem,” said Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose group was allocated two seats (out of 30) in Hariri’s proposed cabinet.
Nasrallah described Hariri’s move as inappropriate and said the prime minister-designate and his allies had not made any concessions in talks aimed at agreeing the new unity government.
President Michel Suleiman, who took office last year as a consensus candidate, is not expected to approve any cabinet proposal that does not have unanimous support among factions whose rivalries spilled into armed conflict last year.
The president informed me that he would study the formation,” Hariri said after meeting Suleiman, who has said he wants the government in place, before he travels to the U.N. General Assembly later this month.
The Seats & the Aoun dilemma
Hariri has resisted Aoun’s demand for Gebran Bassil, his son-in-law, to keep his post as telecoms minister. Aoun also wants to name the new interior minister.
Hariri’s proposed line-up keeps Ziad Baroud in his current post as interior minister and hands the telecoms ministry to Ghazi Aridi, an associate of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, political sources said.
Hariri is keen to gain the telecoms portfolio for his coalition and oversee a long-stalled plan to privatize the telecoms sector. The sale of two state-owned mobile firms is expected to garner as much as $7 billion.
Aoun said Hariri’s move showed he did not want to form a government. “On the contrary, he wants to play with the cabinet formation according to his mood,” Aoun told Sawt al-Mada radio station.
Hariri said his proposal respected the broad seat-sharing arrangement agreed with the opposition.
President Suleiman is allowed to name the remaining five ministers, giving him a decisive say over cabinet decisions.
Hariri proposed Raya Hassan for finance minister, responsible for managing Lebanon’s massive public debt burden, and Nada Mfarrij for the post of energy minister, the political sources said. They are two of four women in the proposed line-up. Both are close to Hariri. A political source had earlier named Mfarrij as the proposed economy minister.
Hassan has an MBA from The George Washington University in the United States. She is currently manager of a United Nations Development Program project aimed at supporting decision-making at the office of the prime minister.
The sources said that Elias al-Murr would keep his job as defense minister while the foreign ministry would go to Yassin Jaber, who is close to parliament speaker and leading opposition figure Nabih Berri.
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Tags: aoun, Elias al-Murr, Hariri government, Hezbollah, Nada Mfarrij, national unity government, Raya Hassan, women in goverment, Yassin Jaber, Ziad Baroud