A much-anticipated meeting between President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri has failed to achieve any breakthrough in the stalled cabinet formation process.
“Unfortunately, His Excellency the President sent me yesterday a full line-up put together by him, which contained the allocation of portfolios to sects and parties, with a letter saying that it would be better if I filled it up,” Hariri said after meeting Aoun in Baabda.
“The paper contained a one-third-plus-one share for his political camp in formats of 18 ministers, 20 ministers and 22 ministers. His Excellency asked me to suggest candidates for the portfolios according to the sectarian and partisan distribution prepared b him,” the PM-designate added.
“With all due transparency, I will tell you what I told him today. First: It is unacceptable because the PM-designate’s job is not to fill papers submitted by anyone not it is the job of the President to form governments. And secondly because our constitution clearly says that the PM-designate would form a cabinet, select names and discuss the line-up with the President,” Hariri went on to say.
He added: “Accordingly, I told His Excellency with all due respect that I will consider his letter null and void and I returned it to him. I also told him that I will keep a copy of it for history!”
Hariri also added that he told Aoun that he had submitted a cabinet line-up 100 days ago and that he is still ready for “any suggestions and modifications regarding names and portfolios.”
“I even facilitated the solution for him regarding his insistence on the interior portfolio, but unfortunately his clear answer was the one-third-plus-one share,” the PM-designate said.
Stressing that his only goal is to “put an end to the collapse and the suffering of the Lebanese,” Hariri said he called on the President to “hear the pain of the Lebanese.”
“I asked him to give the country its last and only chance, through the formation of a government of specialists that would achieve reforms and halt the collapse, without obstruction or narrow partisan considerations,” the PM-designate added.
And responding to Aoun’s complaint that he has only presented “broad lines” for the cabinet line-up, Hariri distributed to reporters copies of the line-up he had submitted to the President on December 9, which contains the names and portfolios of the proposed candidates.