Report: Aoun, Hariri Warn Parties Have One Week to Form Cabinet

Political parties are obliged to agree on the controversial distribution of ministerial portfolios within a week time limit, otherwise they will be compelled to agree on a government line-up set by President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, media reports said on Thursday.

Aoun and Hariri will not leave the disagreements on portfolios to hinder the formation process any longer and have decided to take action in that regard. The choices at hand include “imposing a line-up which they see appropriate,” Free Patriotic Movement sources told al-Akhbar daily.

“Parties have one week to agree and announce a new cabinet,” the sources quoted Aoun.

The sources told the daily on condition of anonymity that allotting the health ministry instead of the public works ministry to the Lebanese Forces did not solve all the hurdles hampering the formation which made Aoun and Hariri escalate rhetoric.

Although reports said the two officials have set a week time limit for the differences to settle between parties, but sources close to Hariri assured that no time limits was set.

Aoun’s election as president after two and a half years of presidential void and Hariri’s designation as PM have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

However, Hariri is still facing obstacles bringing together a line-up that balances Lebanon’s delicate sectarian-based political system.

A struggle between Hariri and Aoun on one side and Berri over the government line-up. At stake is the distribution of the most powerful portfolios, including the Defense Ministry.

The political parties are also bickering over amending the current election law which divides seats among the different religious sects. The current parliament has failed to amend the law, and has extended its mandate twice amid criticism. New elections are scheduled for May 2017.