Kouchner backs 15-10-5 for Beirut Cabinet

Oct. 23, 2009 at 1:24 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The makeup of the next government in Lebanon should be in line with a power-sharing arrangement reached with top leaders, French officials said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner met with top leaders in Lebanon, including Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader of the Hezbollah-allied Progressive Socialist Party.

Hariri led his March 14 coalition to power in June parliamentary elections over the opposition March 8 slate. Hariri promised to work quickly to form a new government, reaching a power-sharing agreement with his rivals.

That agreement would give 15 appointments to Hariri's backers, 10 to members of the opposition and five to allies of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

Opposition leader Michel Aoun, however, upended momentum when he questioned the distribution of ministerial portfolios.

Kouchner said he believes the 15-10-5 power-sharing agreement should govern appointments, Lebanese news outlet Tayyar.org reported.

Lebanese leaders expressed confidence about a new government prior to the Aoun announcement. Kouchner emerged from his meetings Friday saying he was "somewhat optimistic."

He noted, however, that it was external factors that were to blame for the delays in forming a Cabinet.

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