BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman Friday voiced optimism on the formation of an all-embracing government, saying former Prime Minister Saad Hariri had indicated his positive stance toward the Cabinet lineup.
"[I] received positive signals from Hariri to go ahead with the formation of a unifying government based on the 8-8-8 formula," Sleiman told LBCI.
The president also warned that he would form a new government in 10 days if rival groups failed to reached consensus.
Future parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora is expected to meet Speaker Nabih Berri as well as Sleiman separately on Saturday to inform them about the March 14 coalition’s decision on whether to take part in an all-embracing Cabinet.
Despite the presence of a positive atmosphere with respect to the formation of a new Cabinet, the Lebanese Forces, a major component of the March 14 group, voiced opposition to Hezbollah’s participation in a future government.
Speaking to a local television station, LF MP Antoine Zahra said the purpose from a government with Hezbollah ministers was aimed at providing a cover for the resistance group’s involvement in Syria.
Sleiman’s remarks came amid a flurry of intensified political activity to break the 9-month deadlock over the formation of the government, which is facing growing pressures as a result of the crisis in neighboring Syria.
With 124 votes, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam was nominated on April 6, 2013 to form the next government to replace the resigned Cabinet of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Mikati tendered his Cabinet’s resignation after a fallout among ministers over a body to oversee parliamentary elections and the issue of extending the mandate of then police chief Maj. Gen. Ahraf Rifi.
Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt have been campaigning for the 8-8-8 government lineup in which the March 14 and the March 8 camps would each get eight ministers, with "decisive ministers" allotted for each camp among the remaining eight centrist ministers.
Future Movement MP Nuhad Mashnouq said earlier Friday that his party was still waiting for answers to a series of questions concerning the proposed 8-8-8 government, including the future government’s ministerial statement and the rotation of the ministerial portfolios.
Speaking to LBCI, Sleiman said Salam was the official to refer to with the five questions posed by the March 14 coalition.
The Future Movement along with the March 14 coalition have rejected that the tripartite formula “Army, the people and the resistance” be included in any future Cabinet statement.
The coalition argues that Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria has rendered such a defense formula invalid.
Hezbollah said that the formula, which was adopted by previous Cabinets, is the only means of protecting Lebanon from Israeli aggression.
A Hezbollah delegation met with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and discussed the upcoming presidential election scheduled for May.
According to the National News Agency, Rai stressed on the need for consensus with respect to the presidential election.