Government needed now

FPM leader Michel Aoun is seen in Rabieh, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. (The Daily Star/Charbel Nakhoul, HO)

All Lebanese parties and groups are in agreement that a new government is needed, and urgently, but certain politicians seem to be prioritizing their own wishes above the country’s stability.

Both Hezbollah and Future have agreed on the need for rotating ministerial portfolios, and the 8-8-8 formula. But the former has been as yet unable to convince its Free Patriotic Movement allies of the need for regularly rotating Cabinet portfolios, with caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil saying Sunday the position must be reserved for Christians, and, indirectly, for his party.

As the country veers from one security incident to another, with fractious borders and a general sense of unease, a functioning government is needed more now than ever, especially given that the presidential election, scheduled for late spring, might not even take place on time. Should this occur, a government would provide a much-needed safety net.

International backers of Lebanon are also stressing the need for a government sooner rather than later, and have indicated that they are not opposed to Hezbollah being part of any new Cabinet.

Therefore while this widespread enthusiasm for a new government abounds, it must be taken advantage of. If that means that the FPM are not part of the new government, then so be it. The president and the prime minister-designate have implied they are not willing to wait around for FPM leader Michel Aoun to calm down, and it seems likely the party’s ministers will resign if it is not promised the Energy portfolio.

Both sides bruised from recent events in Lebanon, Hezbollah and March 14 have realized compromise is necessary. Hopefully this mood of partial reconciliation translates into the creation of a new Cabinet, today and not tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 27, 2014, on page 7.




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