Lebanon PM Lashes Out As Wrangling Delays Government Formation

Beirut, March 22 (AFP/APP): Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun failed again Monday to agree on a new government line-up after seven months of deadlock, as the country sinks deeper into economic crisis.

“I asked the president to listen to the woes of the people and to give this country its final chance of having a technocratic government capable of reform,” Hariri said from the presidential palace after his proposed cabinet line-up was rejected.

Hariri’s remarks crushed hopes for a government breakthrough, as political leaders continued to wrangle over cabinet shares despite widespread anger at an economic crisis that has reignited street protests against a decades-old ruling class. Hariri said Aoun and the party he founded are pushing for a third of all cabinet seats, which would give them veto power over government decisions.

Aoun “sent me last night a line-up that grants his team a third of cabinet seats”, Hariri said. “This is not acceptable.”

The three-time premier, who was selected in October to form a new government, made public an alternative line-up he said he had submitted to the president more than three months ago. Hariri’s proposal was comprised mainly of experts and included fresh names, such as Firas Abiad, the head of Lebanon’s main coronavirus hospital, Nasser Yasin of the American University of Beirut and prominent political scientist Fadia Kiwan, according to a list published by his office.

He said the line-up was turned down because it didn’t give the president’s set privileged power.

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