Lebanon cabinet lineup ready, ministerial statement in the making

aoun haririLebanese political forces overpassed Thursday all obstacles hindering the birth of a new cabinet, which is expected on Friday evening or Saturday, and turned their attention to drafting the big headlines of the ministerial statement, as new disputes might emerge over issues related to the arms of Hezbollah and Lebanon’s relationship with the Syrian regime.

Speaker Nabih Berri had advised all parties to draft a brief ministerial statement that excludes controversial files.

On the eve of officially announcing a 30-member cabinet, sources from the Presidential Palace told Asharq Al-Awsat, “In the new few hours, the Lebanese will hear the good news of a long-awaited cabinet lineup.”

The sources said the six Sunni independent deputies, known as the Consultative Gathering, finally accepted Jawad Adra to represent them in the new cabinet.

On Thursday, some deputies of the Gathering had rejected the President’s nomination of Adra.

However, Hezbollah quickly interfered to dissipate any signs of dispute among them and urged the deputies to accept Adra’s nomination for the post.

Member of the Consultative Gathering MP Qassem Hashem, who backed the nomination of Adra, refused to explain what happened in Thursday’s meeting between the so-called Sunni independent MPs and a Hezbollah delegation.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat the timing for an expected meeting between the six deputies and both President Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Friday has not been set yet. However, he said, “It is expected in the coming hours.”

Adra, who is the founder of research and consulting firm Information International, is said to be close to Speaker Nabih Berri and the March 8 camp, but also has a close relationship with Aoun and Hariri.

Following a visit Thursday to Hariri at the Center House, caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said: “The government will be formed very soon, and there is an understanding that the ministerial statement will be based on that of the previous government with some additions related to the reforms of CEDRE Conference.”

“Last-minute retouching”

Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil met in the afternoon with  Hariri. Sources close to Bassil, who is also the caretaker foreign minister, said he went alone to the meeting.

A Baabda Palace source said the Cabinet could still be formed Friday evening even though President Michel Aoun appeared at a Christmas event in Beirut.

Asharq Al Awsat/YL