Lebanon ‘heading for hell’ if French initiative fails

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Source: Annahar-Georgi Azar

Lebanese president Michel Aoun addressees a speech, in the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: President #Michel Aoun warned Monday that #Lebanon is “headed for hell” if an agreement over a new government isn’t reached.

Aoun’s remarks came in response to a question over the fate of Lebanon in light of the latest cabinet deadlock that has entered its third week.

Lebanese officials have been at loggerheads over the allocation of sovereign ministries, specifically the hotly contested finance portfolio.

The Shiite duo of Amal Movement and Hezbollah are still unwavering in their demand to name the upcoming finance minister, whose signature is needed on all decrees that entail government spending.

“[Amal and Hezbollah] are insisting on retaining the Finance Ministry and on naming the remaining Shiite representatives,” Aoun said.

This essentially would grant the duo veto power on a wide range of fiscal and administrative issues including the appointment of senior civil servants.

The government formation process is facing a number of obstacles, Aoun said, including the Shiite duo’s insistence on retaining the finance ministry and Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib’s unwillingness to consult the heads of parliamentary blocs.

“The Prime Minister-designate does not want to take into account the opinions of parliamentary blocs and is proposing a complete rotation of the sovereign ministries [among Lebanon’s largest sects],” Aoun said, adding that Adib’s position is in line with that of Lebanon’s three former Prime Ministers, Saad Hariri, Najib Mikati and Fouad Siniora.

French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly called for the formation of a miniature government made up of independent experts tasked with implementing hard-hitting reforms to limit Lebanon’s economic and financial collapse.

Aoun seemingly tiptoed along both positions, arguing first and foremost of the need to hold deliberations with Lebanon’s parliamentary blocs.

“It is unacceptable to discard the parliamentary blocs as they will be the ones that put forth a vote of confidence for the government,” Aoun said, before arguing that Lebanon’s constitution does not allocate ministries based on sects.

“The constitution does not call for the allocation of any ministry to any sect or group of individuals, nor can any minister be granted authority that is not stipulated in the constitution,” Aoun added.

Adib has yet to present a Cabinet lineup to Aoun, who can either sign it and turn it over to parliament for a vote of confidence or reject it.

“Lebanon needs the cooperation of all parties to facilitate the formation of a government with a specific mission, which the political parties had previously pledged to support,” Adib tweeted Monday.

 

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