BEIRUT: Three former prime ministers distanced themselves Tuesday evening from Future Movement head Saad Hariri’s proposed solution to the Cabinet formation deadlock, saying they were “not bound” by it.
“The initiative put forward by [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri is a personal initiative,” Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora and Tamam Salam said in a statement. “After the contrived uproar over the Finance Ministry portfolio, we consider ourselves not bound by this initiative."
Hariri said Tuesday that he would not mind if an “independent” Shiite candidate took over the coveted portfolio in the next government.
His intervention came after a weekslong battle between Shiite parties the Amal Movement and Hezbollah against Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib’s proposal to give the portfolio to another sect in a shake-up of the sectarian leadership of the Finance, Defense, Interior and Foreign ministries.
“I have decided to help Prime Minister Adib to find a way out by naming an independent finance minister from the Shiite sect to be chosen by him, like the other ministers on the basis of efficiency, integrity and without partisan affiliation,” Hariri said in a statement released by his media office.
Hariri stressed that his decision did not mean that the Finance Ministry was the exclusive right of the Shiite sect or any other sect. He also emphasized that his proposal was one that he was making separately from the other ex-premiers.
Mikati, Siniora and Salam also said in their statement that “the Lebanese Constitution is very clear that no ministerial portfolio can be monopolized or is the exclusive right of ministers that are part of a particular sect or religious group.”
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