BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon appeared to be edging toward clinching a deal to form a new national unity government after more than seven months of wrangling over cabinet posts, as the finance minister was quoted as saying there could be a new administration within days.
Efforts to form a new government led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri have been obstructed by rival groups’ conflicting demands for seats in a cabinet that must be formed in line with a finely balanced sectarian political system.
Heavily indebted and suffering from a stagnant economy, Lebanon is in dire need of an administration that can set about long-stalled economic reforms to put public debt on a sustainable footing.
The Hariri-owned al-Mustaqbal newspaper reported a “positive atmosphere” which indicated the government formation effort “was close to reaching its hoped-for conclusion”. “The road to the government has become open to a very large degree,” it reported.
The final logjam has been over Sunni Muslim representation, with a group of Hezbollah-allied Sunni MPs demanding a cabinet seat to reflect gains in the May election in which Hariri lost more than a third of his lawmakers.