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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Lebanon: Government formation is imminent, officials say

President Michel Aoun has reportedly offered a solution to the main snag blocking progress

The Lebanese communist party hold a placard reading in Arabic 'No for loading low-income citizens the consequences of the economic crisis' during their protest in Beirut, Lebanon. EPA 
The Lebanese communist party hold a placard reading in Arabic 'No for loading low-income citizens the consequences of the economic crisis' during their protest in Beirut, Lebanon. EPA 

Lebanon's cabinet may be formed before the start of the new year, Mohammad Fneish, one of Hezbollah's representatives in cabinet told The National on Monday.

He refused to disclose whether a solution had been reached regarding the representation of Hezbollah-allied Sunni MPs in government but said that "things seem to be going in the right direction."

Rival political parties in Lebanon have been in disagreement since May’s parliamentary election over the distribution of key ministerial portfolios and the number of cabinet seats allocated to each group, hampering attempts to form a governing coalition.

Hezbollah has complicated the process by demanding a seat in government for one of its Sunni allies- a demand that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has rejected. This has stymied any move towards resolving the current deadlock and stalled necessary fiscal reforms that could unlock $11 billion in pledged donor loans during a Paris conference in April.

Lebanon's General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim on Tuesday also said that a national unity cabinet "will see the light" soon, following a meeting with the Hezbollah-allied Sunni MPs who are demanding representation in government.

“Things are going on the right track," he told reporters after the meeting.

Unidentified Hezbollah sources told Lebanon's Al Markaziah media agency on Tuesday that cabinet may be formed within "the next couple of days."

The sources claimed that the main snags to its formation were resolved after President Michel Aoun agreed to cede one of his bloc's seats in government to a Hezbollah-allied Sunni MP.

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Read more:

Moody's revises Lebanon's rating to negative on higher geopolitical risks

Lebanon's private sector growth worsens at slower rate in November

Lebanon finance minister and World Bank urge formation of government

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Caretaker finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil told Reuters on Tuesday that a new Lebanese national unity government is likely to be formed by Christmas at the start of next week

The cabinet's formation would "open the way for" the economic issues facing Lebanon to be tackled, he said.

Lebanon is grappling with the world's third highest debt-to-GDP ratio of about 150 per cent and is struggling to revive economic growth and control its finances.

Updated: December 18, 2018 04:57 PM

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