BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published Saturday that he supports the March 14 alliance’s demand to rotate ministerial portfolios, so long as the rotation is equal between sects.
“I support the rotation of ministerial portfolios as long as the process is carried out evenly between everyone,” Berri told An-Nahar, a daily newspaper.
He also said that he would accept allocating sovereign portfolios to sects will a smaller population size.
“This would be better than limiting sovereign portfolios to larger sects,” the speaker said.
“Are [the smaller sects] half Lebanese or second rate citizens?” he asked.
Hopes of a breakthrough in the Cabinet formation stalemate emerged after a proposal by the March 8 alliance and the Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt seemed to have garnered a positive response from the March 14 group.
The proposal stipulates a Cabinet lineup of 8-8-8, 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 centrists. This would effectively grant the rival camps veto power in the government.
The March 14 coalition has said it might accept the proposal if questions posed by the Future Movement get answers from Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam. The questions center mainly on the government’s policy statement, a March 8 demand for veto power and the rotation of ministerial portfolios
Berri also said that he is determined to go ahead with the 8-8-8 Cabinet formula even if President Michel Sleiman picks the fifth Shiite minister in the cabinet, and not Hezbollah and his Amal Movement, the two main Shiite parties in the country.
“For my part, I shall bear full responsibility in going ahead with the 8-8-8 formula even if [Amal and Hezbollah] do not get to name the fifth Shiite minister who would be affiliated to President Sleiman,” Berri said.
The president said Friday that he would give Lebanon's rival political parties until Jan. 20 to form a unity government, hinting that he would move ahead with forming a fait accompli Cabinet if consensus is not reached.