Lebanon’s caretaker Minister of Energy and Water, Gebran Bassil, has developed into one of Lebanon’s most controversial political figures. Mr Basil – backed by his party, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM – which is headed by his powerful father-in-law, Michel Aoun) – refuses to back down from his insistence that he retain the energy portfolio in a future cabinet. Mr Basil’s position has long played a role in delaying the formation of a new government in Lebanon, a process that has seen 11 months of failure due to a wide range of obstacles. Yet public debate in recent weeks has focused on Mr Basil, who says that the FPM must control three key portfolios in the next cabinet: the foreign ministry, the ministry of energy and water and the telecommunications ministry.

Mr Basil has sought to tie his control of the energy ministry to Lebanon’s deeply rooted system of sectarian apportionment: “[The Energy and Water portfolio] is strategic for Lebanon and Christians because it entails international relations stolen from the Christians 25 years ago. It also includes a balanced development that was absent from Christian [areas] for 25 years…Therefore, it is a primary ministry par excellence and should not be a target of exclusion and it is the right of this sect [Christians] to be trusted with Lebanon’s oil for an interim period.” (CONTINUED - 660 WORDS)