New snags hold up formation of Lebanon unity government

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Efforts to finalize a deal on a Lebanese national unity government hit new snags on Saturday, postponing its formation, a senior official closely involved in the efforts said.

More than seven months since its last general election, Lebanon, heavily indebted and suffering from low economic growth, is in dire need of an administration to enact long-stalled reforms and put public debt on a sustainable footing.

A deal on a new government led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri looked close earlier this week when a mediation effort made headway towards resolving the last big problem, which surrounded Sunni Muslim representation.

Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, said on Friday he hoped to finalize the cabinet later that day. The cabinet seats must parceled out among rival groups according to a finely balanced sectarian system.

“A number of obstacles have appeared in the last hours that led to delaying the government. The obstacles include the problem of Sunni representation and the problem of portfolio distribution,” the official said.

The official did not give an estimate as to when the problems would be resolved.

More contacts are expected on Sunday.

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