TUE 20 - 8 - 2019
Date: Jan 7, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Pro-Syria 'mouthpieces' behind govt obstruction: Joumblatt
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt Sunday accused pro-Syria officials of obstructing Cabinet formation with the aim of dealing a blow to an economic summit that will be held in Beirut later this month.

“Things are no longer hidden to anyone,” Joumblatt said in a tweet. “There is a systematic campaign from the mouthpieces of the Syrian regime to block government formation, sometimes through the [Consultative] Gathering, sometimes through the heresy of adding two ministers [to Cabinet] and other false arguments,” he added.

Joumblatt was referring to the issue of the six pro-Hezbollah Sunni lawmakers from outside the Future Movement whose representation in the new government has hindered its formation. Attempts to cause a breakthrough on this issue have so far failed.

One of the suggested solutions called for increasing the number of ministers in Cabinet from 30 to 32 in order to make way for the MPs’ representation, which Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri rejected.

“All of this [obstruction] is in order to hinder the economic summit and destroy the immunity of the Lebanese [system] from further hegemony,” Joumblatt said, referring to the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit to be held in Beirut on Jan. 19-20.

One of the ongoing debates related to the summit that reemerged this week was whether to invite Syria, even though its membership in the Arab League has been suspended since 2011 following the outbreak of the country’s civil war.

A source from Lebanon’s presidential palace had previously told The Daily Star that Syria could rejoin the Arab League if foreign ministers from the member states, who are scheduled to meet in Beirut on Jan. 18, choose to reinstate the country.

In that case, the Baabda Palace source said, “we will immediately send an invitation to Damascus.”

Hezbollah, an ally to Damascus, expressed support for Syria’s invitation to the summit, saying it was in Lebanon’s interest to do so.

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