Opposition groups nominate candidate for Lebanese telecoms minister

09 July 2008
Lebanon’s opposition parties have nominated their own candidate as telecoms minister in the new national unity government, threatening the privatisation of the country’s two mobile phone operators.

The leader of Lebanon’s opposition Free Patriotic Movement, Michel Aoun, has nominated Gibran Bassil to be telecoms minister.

The opposition parties have repeatedly called on the government to cancel the sale of the phone companies because of the revenue they contribute to the public finances. It is not clear if they will continue with this policy if Bassil is given the post.

Prime minister Fouad Siniora has said the majority and minority parties in parliament will agree on a new cabinet before 12 July.

Lebanon’s telecoms regulator was expected to privatise the two state-owned mobile phone companies, MIC 1 and MIC 2, this autumn.

The companies are managed by MTC-Touch, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Zain, and Alfa, a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and Saudi Arabia’s Fal Holdings.

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