Hariri, Jumblat Issue Warnings as Govt. Formation Deadline Missed

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Lebanese politicians have missed a 15-day deadline to form a crisis Cabinet, with many remaining deadlocked on Wednesday on which political faction gets to have the key portfolio of the finance ministry.

The deadline was set as part of a French initiative by President Emmanuel Macron who has been pressing the leaders in Lebanon to form a Cabinet made up of specialists who can work on enacting urgent reforms to extract the country from a devastating economic and financial crisis.

The crisis has been worsened by the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut's port caused by the detonation of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrates, which killed nearly 200 people, injured thousands and caused losses worth billions of dollars.

The French leader has described his initiative, which includes a road map and a timetable for reforms, as "the last chance for this system."

While initially committing to the plan and naming a new prime minister-designate who promised to deliver a Cabinet within two weeks, Lebanese politicians have been unable to meet the deadline amid divisions over the initiative itself and the manner in which the government formation is being carried out, away from the usual consultations and horse-trading among political factions.

Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Adib's French-supported efforts to form a government of experts without party loyalists hit snags the last few days, particularly after the U.S. administration slapped sanctions on two former Cabinet ministers and close allies of Hizbullah, including Ali Hassan Khalil, the top aide to the powerful Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Berri, who heads the Hizbullah-allied Shiite Amal Movement, is now insisting on retaining hold on the Finance Ministry, which has been held by a Shiite close to Berri and Hizbullah for the past 10 years. He has also objected to the way the Cabinet formation was being undertaken, apparently angered that Adib has not been consulting them.

A government opposed by Lebanon's two main Shiite groups would find it difficult to pass a vote of confidence in parliament.

Local reports said Adib, a Sunni according to Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system and former diplomat who is supported by Macron, got the backing of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and was appointed to form a Cabinet on Aug. 31. Local reports said he was inclined to step down if no breakthrough was achieved in the next 24 hours.

Hariri, in a tweet, said the Ministry of Finance and other ministerial portfolios "are not an exclusive right for any sect" and that the insistence on retaining the ministry for one sect was a "flagrant violation" undermining "the last chance to save Lebanon and the Lebanese."

Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat said some people "did not understand or do not want to understand that the French initiative is the last chance to save Lebanon and prevent its demise."

Macron has visited Lebanon twice in less than a month, trying to force change on its leadership amid the crises and last month's massive explosion in Beirut's port.

Lebanon, a former French protectorate, is mired in the country's worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. It defaulted on paying back its debt for the first time ever in March, and the local currency has collapsed, leading to hyperinflation and soaring poverty and unemployment.

The small, cash-strapped country is in desperate need of financial assistance but France and other international powers have refused to provide aid before serious reforms are made. The crisis is largely blamed on decades of systematic corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon's ruling class.

Comments 6
Thumb gebran_sons 11 days

What are you waiting for by not asking your MPs along with LF MPs to resign, therefore forcing new elections to ends this charade by the totally discredited Aoun, Bassil and the duo. And also help the Thuar in the Shia community to do their part. Lebanon Shia missed the opportunity not supporting the Green Revolution in Iran in 2010 who were asking for same democratic freedom as Lebanese Shia. Berri is blood guilty by siding with the Basij murderers. But revolution is no doubt coming again to Iran and Iraq as the same misery and desperation Lebanon is experiencing from the duo, Iranians and Iraqui will soon experience from the criminal Iranian Junta. Their days are numbered and so is Hizb arms the source of Lebanon’s misery, isolation and despair.

Missing kazan 11 days

" Lebanon a former French protectorate" and before that for 4 centuries ruled by the Ottomans; They have no idea what is the meaning of independence, they are conditioned to do what the master asks, whether the boss is a warlord or feudal family or religious leader or foreign country, doesn't matter.So it is not fair to expect miracles....

Missing kazan 11 days

And we are great in telling our misery is caused by third parties, our biggest enemy is ourselves.
the influence of Syria,Iran,Palestina,Israel you named it ,it's because of the marriage failure of the Lebanese society.

Missing levant 11 days

the duo clearly received a call on the red phone from evil empire iran to spoil formation. they are losing out currently each way they look in the middle east...trying to maintain some 'authority' illusion of strength for their uneducated peasant brainwashed captagon filled sheep.

Default-user-icon Raymond Najar (Guest) 8 days

The only way Mustafa can proceed is to ignore Berri and Aoun and present the options that he beleives is right for the future and what will make Lebanon more acceptable to the west. He has to call their bluff to end this madness for the sake of his country. Mac
ron is his allie and he will be a hero if he has the stomach to do the right thing.
Mustapha must be supported by the people and the other zaims who must realize that the game is over and there is only one course of action. Berri's threat about the voting block will achieve nothing aceb na there will be new elections,
The entire parliament needs to be dissolved and fresh elections to be run by March / April 2021. Hizbullah will not risk a war at this stage as they have too much opposition from outside Lebanon. Iran is blockaded both at sea and land.
Come on Lebanese have faith in yourselves and back the PM designate.

Default-user-icon Raymond Najar (Guest) 8 days

Since when were foxes in charge of the hen house. Aoun and Berri are past their useby date, stop giving them Oxygen. They can posture all they like but they don't have the support of the nation, nor the friends of the nation.
The arab world is waking up to tyranny and know that there needs to be more consideration to the welfare of their people. These battles by the elite always have a limited life and 30 years plus is another generation, a generation that cares for the future of their nation.