BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri said Wednesday that he still considers the 9-9-6 government formula to be a reasonable lineup, one that could break the ongoing Cabinet stalemate, according to political sources.
“The 9-9-6 Cabinet formula is still the plausible and acceptable formula,” Berri was quoted as saying by MPs attending his weekly meeting with lawmakers at his Ain al-Tineh residence.
Berri also said that “no one should think of adventuring in this country,” in an apparent reference to rumors President Michel Sleiman would back the formation of a fait accompli Cabinet that does not win the support of the major parties.
The Cabinet formation has been stalled for over eight months due to differences between political rivals.
The 9-9-6 Cabinet formula, proposed by the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance, calls for allotting nine ministerial portfolios to each of the March 8 and March 14 camps, whereas the remaining six portfolios would be those of the centrists. This formula would grant veto power to each of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.
The centrists refer to Sleiman, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.
The proposal is opposed by the Future Movement which calls for forming a neutral, nonpartisan government.
Berri called on all political parties to behave responsibly and confront current and upcoming challenges.
The speaker also met caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour, who was representing Jumblatt.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Abu Faour said that caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati discussed with MPs from Jumblatt’s bloc the possibility of holding sessions for the caretaker Cabinet, but has yet to make a final decision.
“The caretaker prime minister did not make a final decision about holding a session, he is trying to determine the stances of political factions on the possibility of convening the caretaker Cabinet to discuss urgent issues such as security threats or supporting the Army,” Abu Faour said.
Abu Faour added that “politicians should have a clear road map” to confront the successive crises in the country, citing constitutional, security, political and economic problems.
He said that political groups should sit together whether on the Dialogue table or in the new Cabinet. He also said that rival factions should work to elect a new president next spring and avoid vacuum in the presidency. The constitutional period to elect a new president starts on March 25, two months prior to the end of President Michel Sleiman’s term.
Sleiman said Monday that he opposed attempts by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to convene a session for the caretaker Cabinet, saying there was no reason to make such a move.
Mikati said earlier this week that he was considering chairing a session of the caretaker government to address pressing state matters and security threats. The move is supported by Hezbollah and Amal, but opposed by the Future Movement.
Future MP Bassam Shab said he supported extending Sleiman’s term if a new president was not elected on time.
“We support electing a new president. But if this cannot happen, then we back extending the term of the president to avoid vacuum,” Shab told a local radio station.
Shab reiterated his bloc’s calls for forming a neutral technocrat government that addressed the pressing needs of the Lebanese until a new president is elected.