Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Adib on Thursday met President Michel Aoun in Baabda after which he announced that more time will be given to the efforts aimed at forming a new government.
“I discussed with the president the difficulties that we are facing in the formation of a new government,” said Adib after the talks.
“I fully understand that we don’t have the luxury of time and I’m counting on everyone’s cooperation in order to form a mission government whose jurisdiction will be the implementation of what was agreed on with (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron,” the PM-designate added.
“I agreed with the President to wait and give more time to the ongoing consultations,” said Adib after the talks.
The Presidency for its part announced that Aoun “called on the PM-designate to continue the necessary contacts as soon as possible because the current situations require a quick rescue effort, especially that 16 days have passed” since Adib was tasked with forming the government.
Aoun also stressed keenness on “the French initiative and all its stipulations,” noting that it had won “the consensus of the political leaders.”
Shortly before his meeting with the president, Adib had held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri’s aide Ali Hassan Khalil and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s assistant Hussein Khalil in a bid to reach an agreement over the thorny issues of the finance ministerial portfolio and Shiite representation in the new government.
Macron, who traveled to Beirut twice since an August 4 port explosion disfigured the city, had demanded Lebanon’s factions set no conditions on the line-up of the crisis government.
France had warned that the combined effects of one of the largest explosions in history and of a critical debt crisis posed an existential threat to the 100-year-old state.
However, Hizbullah and Amal, the two main Shiite groups in Lebanon’s usual power-sharing arrangement, have insisted on retaining the finance ministry, effectively blocking Adib’s efforts.
In a statement, Hizbullah’s parliamentary bloc said it “categorically” rejects any effort to impose names or block names for “any cabinet portfolio, especially the finance ministry.”
According to political officials, the young premier-designate has been pushing for a tighter cabinet of 14 ministers while the dominant alliance in parliament wants 24.
Lebanese media had raised the possibility he would throw in the towel if the French deadline was not met, but Adib looked set to pursue his efforts.