Lebanon: Efforts to remove obstacles to cabinet sessions

aoun hariri baabdaPresident Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri are expected to launch consultations on Monday to hold a cabinet session to place Lebanon on the right track to obtaining $11bn in loans pledged by international donors at the CEDRE conference following last week’s parliamentary approval of the 2019 budget, government sources said.

“The Prime Minister will likely call for a cabinet session this week after consulting with President Aoun,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

They added that Hariri refuses to implicate the government in political disputes.

Cabinet sessions have been placed on hold since early July, pending a solution to a crisis that emerged over demands to refer to the Judicial Council the killing of two aides to State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib in the Druze area of Aley.

“How would the international community respond to the ongoing paralysis of cabinet sessions after all the efforts exerted by foreign sides to help Lebanon revitalize the stagnant economy?” the sources asked.

They also expressed surprise at the government remaining the victim of delays amid swift developments in the region.

On Friday, Lebanon’s parliament passed the 2019 state budget that is aimed at averting a financial crisis in the heavily indebted country and to introduce economic and fiscal reforms, which are a prerequisite for Beirut to obtain $11bn in loans pledged by international donors at the CEDRE conference held in Paris last year.

“The approval of the 2019 budget is a step towards achieving the needed administrative and monetary reforms to bring down the deficit,” the sources said.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned on Sunday that Aoun supports holding a cabinet session the soonest.