Delays as formation of Lebanon's new government hits obstacles

17.09.2020

Attempts by Lebanon's prime minister-designate Mustafa Adib to form a government to deal with the country's economic woes have hit snags, a source confirmed to dpa on Wednesday. Adib, a former ambassador to Germany, was due to meet Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed for 24 hours to allow for further talks on the line-up of the new government, the source said, confirming earlier local media reports. During a visit to Beirut on 1 September, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a 15-day deadline to Lebanese political forces to form a government. 

"There are ongoing talks with the French side to overcome the obstacles," said the source familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, without elaborating further. The French presidency meanwhile regretted the delays and called on Lebanese leaders to fulfil their responsibilities.

"France regrets that Lebanese political leaders have not managed to fulfil the commitments they expressed to President Macron in line with the timetable that was announced," a source in the Elysee Palace said.

"It is not too late: everybody must fulfil their responsibilities and finally act in the interests of Lebanon alone by enabling Mr Mustapha Adib to form a government capable of dealing with this grave situation," the source said.

France was in contact with Lebanese leaders to urge them to take action, the source added.

Lebanese media reported earlier that the main obstacle in the way of forming a government is the insistence of Lebanon's House Speaker Nabih Berri on retaining the finance portfolio.

Berri also heads the Shia Amal movement, which has close links with Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.

"It seems that some still have not understood or do not want to understand that the French initiative is the last chance to save Lebanon and prevent its demise," Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said on Twitter. 

Macron has emerged as a main power broker for Lebanon, following the massive explosion on 4 August that ripped through the Beirut port and killed more than 190 people and wounded some 6,000 more. The blast also prompted the resignation of then prime minister Hassan Diab six days afterwards, following street protests. 

Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis since its 15-year civil war ended in 1990. (dpa)

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