Lebanon cabinet formation stalls amid diplomatic fight

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 11.11.2018 21:28

The leader of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called on Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to cede a seat in the new cabinet to a Sunni ally or renegotiate the government formation. Nasrallah said rejecting a Sunni ally from its "March 8" camp amounted to exclusion of a section of Lebanese.

"Hezbollah is proud of independent Sunni deputies or deputies of the March 8 camp," he said in a televised speech late Saturday. "We want them to be represented in the government," he stressed.

Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri, who is Lebanon's main Sunni politician and enjoys Western backing, has ruled out allocating any of his cabinet seats to them. Lebanon's political system requires government positions to be allotted along sectarian lines.

President Michel Aoun vowed earlier on Saturday to find a solution to the problem. Though a political ally of Hezbollah, Aoun has sided with Hariri in the row.

Hezbollah's demand for one of its Sunni allies be given a portfolio in the new Lebanese government is at the heart of a row that has obstructed a final agreement six months since a parliamentary election. Hezbollah insists on the representation of six Sunni opposition MPs in the new government, while Hariri argued that the six deputies had run in the polls under the umbrella of political blocs that already got their quota in the cabinet. The formation of a new government is necessary before any moves can be made towards fiscal reforms which the International Monetary Fund said in June are needed immediately to improve debt sustainability.

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