New snags in Lebanese government

Oct. 22, 2009 at 4:50 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Demands by top party leaders in Beirut for more ministerial positions in the next Lebanese government threaten to derail the latest momentum, analysts say.

Michel Aoun, the opposition leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, announced he wanted six portfolios in the new government on top of the five ministries controlled already by his Reform and Change bloc in Parliament.

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad led his March 14 slate to power in the June parliamentary elections, promising to work quickly to form a new government.

Hariri had reached a power-sharing agreement to hold 15 seats, award 10 to the opposition March 8 slate and give five to allies of President Michel Suleiman.

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, tells the non-profit news agency The Media Line that Hezbollah opposition leaders may be quietly trying to gain more control in Beirut.

"When Hezbollah wants to delay things, Aoun is a convenient loud person to slow down the process and throw up smoke screens," he said.

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