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Charbel confirms nomination for Interior Ministrytop post.

Summary: Retired Brigadier General Marwan Charbel, who is tipped to head the coveted Interior Ministry portfolio.

BEIRUT: Retired Brigadier General Marwan Charbel, who is tipped to head the coveted Interior Ministry portfolio, hopes that his experience at the Internal Security Forces and time spent as caretaker Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud's adviser will prove to be sufficient baggage to succeed his new mission.

The retired police officer reported to be the consensus candidate for the long-disputed Interior Ministry post confirmed to The Daily Star Thursday that he has been nominated for the position.

The fight over the Interior Ministry portfolio has been the main cause behind the almost four-month delay in the formation of a new Cabinet.

"I have been verbally informed [of the post]," Charbel said during a telephone interview with The Daily Star.

He also confirmed that he has been chosen as a "consensus candidate" for the job, adding that he awaited his official appointment by a constitutional decree to be issued by President Michel Sleiman.

Charbel hailed Sleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, who were at loggerheads over the Interior Ministry portfolio.

"I'm delighted that they gave me their confidence and the responsibility and I hope I can carry on in the footsteps of [caretaker Interior] Minister Ziyad Baroud," he said.

The Interior Ministry has evolved into the object of much political desire, largely to the burgeoning power of the ISF, a police force which in recent years has grown markedly in numbers and in influence.

The Interior Ministry is also coveted because it will be tasked with drafting the electoral law for the crucial parliamentary elections in 2013.

Aoun has at several instances criticized the increasing reach of the ISF, namely the force's intelligence department known as the "Information Branch."

Incumbent Interior Minister Baroud had told The Daily Star last week that better coordination among ISF's different components was much-needed, he said he even proposed the creation of a command council, which would bring together the heads of the ISF's 11 departments to coordinate their activities.

Charbel, 64, and a father of two sons and a daughter, said that his time as an adviser to Baroud had given him valuable experience in the work of the Interior Ministry.

Charbel said several issues remain to be resolved before the Cabinet could see the light. "We are still waiting for everybody's efforts in order for the government to be announced," Charbel said.

Despite an agreement Wednesday on Charbel's nomination, sources close to the Cabinet formation told The Daily Star that snags over the distribution of other portfolios among March 8 allies were still delaying a final deal on the government.

During the interview, Charbel also tackled the unrest sweeping the Arab world, saying he hoped that peace and quiet would soon prevail over the region.

"Lebanon has always been a country affected by its regional environment," he said. "Calmness around us, particularly in the closest regional country to us [Syria] is in the best interest of Lebanon."

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:May 13, 2011
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