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  • University students light a torch and wave Lebanese flags during anti-government protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 6, 2019.

    University students light a torch and wave Lebanese flags during anti-government protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 6, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 December 2019
Opinion

The decision comes as the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) party refused to name neither Hariri nor anyone else for prime minister.

The expected nomination of caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri as Lebanon’s premiere was postponed Monday after major Christian parties said they would not support the candidacy. 

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According to political sources, the decision comes as the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) party refused to name neither Hariri nor anyone else for prime minister, as they have stated they want a cabinet of independent specialists to lead the government.

The current stance of the LF would place Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing political system at an impasse as the prime minister must always be a Sunni Muslim, the president a Maronite Christian and the speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.

A statement from Hariri's office said that the caretaker PM requested that President Michel Aoun postpone the binding parliamentary consultations "in order to avoid adding constitutional and national problems to the great social, economic and financial crisis facing our country". Aoun rescheduled the talks for Thursday.

“He can’t come to office without [either] of the big Christian blocs,” said Deputy editor-in-chief of the An-Nahar newspaper Nabil Boumonsef said, adding that he doesn’t “expect from now until Thursday morning we will find a miraculous solution.”

Hariri resigned on Oct. 29 in the face of nationwide protests against Lebanon’s ruling elite. His decision toppled a coalition government including the powerful, Iran-backed Shia Muslim group Hezbollah, which opposed the decision.

After the PM quit, talks to agree on a new cabinet became mired in divisions between the prominent Sunni Muslim politician, who is aligned with Western and Gulf Arab states, and adversaries including Hezbollah. 

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However, the reemergence of Hariri for the premiership sparked a new wave of protests in the Arab nation. On Saturday and Sunday, police clashed violently with demonstrators chanted against the security repression and called for an independent new head of government.

Meanwhile, Aoun’s party the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) has said it will not join a government formed on Hariri’s terms, urging urged an end to “time-wasting.” 

With the latest developments, Lebanon’s political crisis deepens as, without the support of the major Christian parties, the FPM and the Lebanese Forces, Hariri’s candidacy is far from guaranteed.

The United Nations’ Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis said the weekend violence “showed that postponements of a political solution of the current crisis create a fertile ground for provocations and political manipulation.” 

The international body also called on Monday to open an investigation into alleged “excessive force” used against protesters after a violent crackdown.

Since Oct. 17, protesters have been demanding a technocratic government formed by independent experts, non affiliated with traditional political parties to try and find a solution to an economic debacle that has now filtered into the financial system, pushing the country into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

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