Lebanon: Government formation is imminent, officials say
President Michel Aoun has reportedly offered a solution to the main snag blocking progress
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.
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