Lebanon Govt. Formation Efforts Focus on Meeting Hariri’s Conditions


A new round of talks kicked off in Lebanon Monday to overcome obstacles hindering an agreement over the naming of a prime minister tasked with forming a new government.

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri is the most likely candidate after Samir al-Khati withdrew his nomination on Sunday. Hariri is seen as the most capable candidate to lead Lebanon during its worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war and the fact that he is the sole candidate so far, makes it more likely that his conditions would be met.

Khatib’s withdrawal prompted President Michel Aoun to postpone parliamentary consultations to name a PM from Monday to December 16.

“The ongoing round of contacts should be decisive this time, particularly after Aoun delayed the consultations,” informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The caretaker PM is still insisting on forming a government of technocrats in case he is renamed,” they explained.

Hariri is expected to hold meetings this week with leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea and head of the Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt.

Hariri’s chances to form the new government also increased as the Shiite parties, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, are less enthusiastic to form a single-colored cabinet that would exclude Hariri and other leading parties.

“We should wait to see how the Free Patriotic Movement would deal with the new developments,” the sources added. They revealed that the Hezbollah may be playing a role in easing the tensions between Hariri and the FPM, which was founded by Aoun and now led by caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

Commenting on the form of the next cabinet, the sources said its size would range between 20 to 24 ministers, including four ministers of states representing the leading political forces, while the rest would be technocrats.

(Asharq Al-Awsat)