Government formation hits dead end as French deadline approaches

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Source: Annahar –Georgi Azar

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, center, meets with Prime Minister-Designate Mustapha Adib, right, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, left, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Lebanon, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: #Lebanon’s Prime-Minister designate #Moustapha Adib’s efforts to form a new Cabinet within the French time frame hit a dead-end Monday, signaling a protracted government crisis that will irk the international community.

On Monday, Adib did not agree on a Cabinet lineup with President #Michel Aoun but instead described the latest talks as positive despite failing to come to terms on the size of the government, its members or its composition.

“Further consultations are needed and God willing things will work out,” he said before exiting the Baabda Presidential Palace.

Both officials will hold deliberations with other Lebanese lawmakers before setting another meeting in the coming days, sources say.

Aoun, sources say, will hold talks with Lebanon’s rival political factions in an attempt to gather the largest number of votes for any potential government.

The 15-day deadline set by French President Emmanuel Macron to form a scaled-down government of independent experts expires Tuesday.

Despite the urgency of the situation, a number of political groups have thrown hurdles in front of Adib’s attempts to meet the French deadline.

The Amal Movement, headed by Speaker Nabih Berri, has reiterated its position vis-à-vis the Finance Ministry, which it argues should be reserved for a Shiite that the speaker nominates.

The current caretaker Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazni, has close ties to Berri while his predecessor Ali Hassan Khalil was his political aid. Hassan Khalil was slapped with U.S sanctions last week on charges of corruption and providing material support to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Following his fiery phone call with Macron on Monday, Berri issued a statement announcing his group’s non-participation in the government while vowing to “facilitating its formation.”

In an attempt to appease Macron, almost all of Lebanon’s main political parties have announced that they will not participate in the new government, including the Free Patriotic Movement, the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Lebanese Forces.

 

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