Lebanese Prez, PM fail to reach cabinet formation deal

Beirut: Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri have failed to reach a consensus on cabinet formation, raising concerns about further instability and a total economic and financial collapse in the country.

Following a meeting between Aoun and Hariri on Monday, the Lebanese pound fell to 14,000 against the US dollar from 11,500 earlier in the day, reports Xinhua news agency.

Hariri said Aoun still insisted on his veto power in the new cabinet, which was rejected on several occasions by the prime minister-designate.

He added that he had rejected the President’s proposal of the cabinet line-up on the grounds that it was unconstitutional for a president to form a government.

Monday’s meeting was the 18th between Aoun and Hariri on the cabinet formation, which has been stalled since last October over disagreements on the number of ministers, distribution of portfolios and veto power.

Hariri, who was assigned to form a new cabinet in October 2020, has repeatedly said he will only form a cabinet of 18 specialists in line with the French initiative, with no veto power granted to any party.

Lebanon has witnessed a political deadlock since the resignation of Hassan Diab’s government in the wake of the Port of Beirut blasts on August 4, 2020, which claimed the lives of 190 people, injured at least 6,000 others and left some 300,000 homeless.

Over a month later, former Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Adib announced of his failure to form a new government.

The Beirut blasts and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated the country’s economic situation, driving thousands of companies out of business while leaving thousands of people unemployed.

Figures released by the World Bank showed that over 50 per cent of the Lebanese people have become “poor”.

This year, the Central Bank of Lebanon also tightened regulations against the country’s banks, which compelled some of them to close branches and lay off employees to stay afloat.

(IANS)

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