News Analysis: Lebanese analysts differ on prospect of gov't formation ahead of Hariri's speech

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-13 03:50:16|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Dana Halawi

BEIRUT, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- As Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is expected to hold a news conference Tuesday, political analysts and officials are having mixed opinions about the destiny of the long-running formation of the national unity government.

Hariri is expected to hold a news conference at his residence in downtown Beirut at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to speak about the difficulties in the cabinet formation.

Hariri has been facing various hurdles in his attempt to form a 30-member national unity government because of rifts among rival politicians over the representation of the main Christian parties and Druze sect.

Few days ago, Lebanon has overcome a major hurdle after Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea accepted Hariri's offer to grant the LF four ministries.

Meanwhile, the Druze representation will be solved by giving two minister seats to the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) headed by the member of parliament Walid Jumblatt, and a third Druze minister was guaranteed to receive consensual support.

However, one obstacle has remained.

Sunni lawmakers from outside Hariri's Future Movement have been demanding to be represented by at least one seat in the government but Hariri, backed by President Michel Aoun, refused the demand saying that the six Sunni lawmakers did not have the right of representation because they were not part of a unified parliamentary block.

Independent Sunni lawmaker Faisal Karami announced Sunday that independent Sunni lawmakers will not give up on their demand to be represented in the government.

Hezbollah, a Shiite Islamic political party in Lebanon, has strongly backed the independent Sunni lawmakers' demand.

In a televised speech last Saturday, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reaffirmed his party's support for the demand by the six Sunni lawmakers from outside Hariri's Future Movement.

"We will not join any government in which the six independent Sunni MPs are not represented," Nasrallah said, shattering hopes for the formation of a government soon.

According to Sami Nader, director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs in Lebanon, Hariri will try to contain what Nasrallah said in his speech.

"Hariri will hold a news conference just to say that Nasrallah's approach is unacceptable and this is an attempt to change the constitution and the political system," Nader told Xinhua.

In addition, analysts told Xinhua that regional powers have a role to play in the delay in the formation of government in Lebanon.

"This is the rule of the game between regional powers," said Nader.

"We will have to wait until these big powers reach a compromise," he added.

Political analyst Walid Mubarak also agreed that the regional powers are present.

"The behavior of political parties in Lebanon shows a struggle for power among them on the internal level, while on the other hand, it demonstrates external regional powers as well," he said.

Moreover, when asked about a possible solution to the crisis, Nader said that one has to wait until regional powers reach a compromise.

He believed that Hezbollah is trying to send a message to all the countries that despite the sanctions on it, the party still plays the upper hand in the Lebanese politics.

Mubarak was more optimistic on the issue, saying that although Nasrallah's speech was tough, it showed some flexibility.

"Nasrallah said he would agree on any minister position to be given to the independent Sunni MPs, as long as it is accepted by those MPs. It opens the way for a compromise," said Mubarak.

The possibility of reconciliation lies in that Hariri said that he will allow the minister representing the Sunni lawmakers to come from the president's share of cabinet, as Hariri already has to save one position for the Christians in his party's share.

"If the government is to be formed, Aoun must nominate a minister representing the independent Sunni MPs belonging to March 8 Movement from his own cabinet share," Mubarak said.

Mubarak added that Aoun also has a great interest in forming a government because this is the first cabinet to be formed in his term.

"Otherwise political parties will have to start all over again with the process of government formation which will take a lot of time and have heavy repercussions on the economy," he said.

Another issue that analysts concerned about is the possibility of Hariri's submission of resignation due to his incapability of forming a government after six months of his appointment as prime minister-designate.

Most analysts said that they have to "wait and see" whether Hariri will resign based on his Tuesday's speech.

"We still do not know if Hariri will resign and it all depends on circumstances. We are observers. We have to wait and see," said Mubarak.