President Michel Aoun will reportedly urge the Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to meet with the six Hezbollah-backed Sunni MPs in a bid to reach a compromise on their representation that will eventually clear the way for a national unity government, according to Lebanese media
Aoun previously rejected Hezbollah’s demand which called for representation of the six MPs in the next government but after launching earlier this week his initiative to resolve the monthslong Cabinet formation crisis, he appears to be caving in to Hezbollahs’ demand
Aoun’s initiative coincided with a report released this week by Moody’s Investors Service that changed the outlook from stable to negative on the government of Lebanon’s issuer ratings, and affirmed the ratings at B3.
Hariri has rejected the MPs’ demand for representation and also rebuffed their request to meet with him to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, a senior Future Movement official praised Aoun’s initiative, but said Hariri would not bow to pressure from Hezbollah and the six MPs.
“Prime Minister Hariri is being asked to submit to the will of Hezbollah and the parliamentary group [six MPs] that represents Hezbollah.
“This is not going to happen, not today, not tomorrow and not in 100 years,” Ahmad Hariri, secretary-general of the Future Movement, said in a speech at the launch of the media “Spot News” network in the northern city of Tripoli. He said Hezbollah had “fabricated the problem and they should solve it,” adding that the premier-designate would not go along with a government whose characteristics were set by Hezbollah.
“[Hariri’s] government [lineup] is ready and it is known to the president and the Parliament speaker and to all those concerned. Any other rhetoric is useless,” Ahmad Hariri said.
Berri angry , says country falling apart
Speaker Nabih Berri was reportedly “betting on the success of Aoun’s initiative but was annoyed when he heard that the initiative “hit a brick a wall,” al-Joumhouria daily. reported s on Saturday.
“Lack of responsiveness to the efforts of President Michel Aoun had a negative impact on Berri who expressed his obvious indignation,” said the daily.
“In this situation, I can’t but be more upset to the point of anger. The situation is intolerable. The country is falling apart and many are watching this fall. Unfortunately, speech is no longer useful, because there is no one to hear,” angry Berri was quoted as telling the newspaper.
What annoys me the most is the fact that we were on the verge of finding a solution, but they pushed it away for reasons i have no knowledge of,” stressed the Speaker, urging political parties away from provocations
Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil , a close ally of Berri said in a statement that Moody’s negative outlook should induce all Lebanese parties to form the Cabinet quickly and proceed with reforms to restore confidence, diminish risks and reduce the budget deficit.
Like Aoun , Berri is another close ally of Hezbollah
Hariri said on Thursday in London that he hoped a new national unity government would be formed by the end of the year after seven months of wrangling over the allocation of ministerial posts.
Hariri, who was speaking at Chatham House , said negotiations on the formation of the new government were in “the last 100 meters” and that “hopefully we should form it before the end of the year”.
“I think the pressure that we have from the economic crisis … is pushing more and more people to form the government,” Hariri said.
“I believe that most of the obstacles were resolved. There is still one obstacle and I am sure that we are able to resolve it,” Hariri said.
One solution for the obstacle is for Aoun to nominate one of the Hezbollah-backed Sunnis, or a figure acceptable to them, among a group of ministers named by the president, but Hezbollah reportedly is not happy about this solution either because the president will be represented by 11 ministers in the cabinet which will give him the right to veto any decision.
Hezbollah is the only party that has not given Hariri the list of its candidates for the upcoming cabinet
Heavily indebted and with a stagnant economy, Lebanon desperately needs a new government to implement economic reforms to put its public finances on a more sustainable footing and unlock foreign aid.