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(UPDATE) Bassil: We are making concessions to facilitate formation of productive national unity government

Head of the Free Patriotic Movement, caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil said at a press conference on Friday that his political party was making all the necessary concessions to facilitate the birth of a productive national unity cabinet.

We may be in the final stages of forming the government, if we adopt the correct criteria. The fair criterion, however, would be a minister for every five deputies, because if we adopt the criteria of four ministers, we would end up with 38 ministers."

"We want a national unity government, but that does not mean we accept blackmail or the game of thwarting the covenant," Bassil stressed.

"I challenge those who say that I have taken the initiative to form a government, as it is the task of the Premier-designate. But we demand political justice in the formation," he said.

"We are concerned with the Druze knot because Talal Arslan is part of the Strong Lebanon bloc. We have nothing to do with the so-called Sunni knot in forming the government because that is Hariri's mission, and we did not treat him as he treated us," the minister went on to say.

"Targeting the President's share is a serious strategic matter, and what e are giving up everything in terms of the LF knot, contrary to what some are circulating. The LF is entitled to three ministers. The number of State portfolios dedicated to Christians is well known, so why make them all part of our share? We want a full-fledged Maarab agreement," Bassil said.

We have never had a problem with the LF assuming a sovereign portfolio, but there is a national veto somewhere else, that has nothing to do with us," he explained, noting that naming the Deputy Prime Minister is the President's right as per custom.

"The Constitution does not set a time limit to forming a government, but the prime minister ought to set a deadline for himself. If the government does not receive confidence votes, we will re-designate Hariri, but on serious grounds."

Bassil went as far as saying "We are ready to give up our presence in the government in exchange for having a government."

"It is shameful to talk about a presidency battle while the current president is our president," he said.

"Let the PM-designate and the President of the Republic set the criteria tell all the parties, including us, this is the formula we have. Take it or leave it," he concluded.

Source: National News Agency

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