Aoun blasts, Hariri asserts that Bassil has the right to form a government


President Michel Aoun on Wednesday blasted caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri and asserted that his son-in-law Gebran Bassil has the right to form the cabinet .

Aoun attacked Hariri during a chat with reporters on Tuesday in Bkirki after a closed-door meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai on the sidelines of Christmas Day mass.

His attack comes after Hariri had said that the new government is not “Hezbollah’s government” but rather “Gebran Bassil’s government,” adding that he will not accept to lead a new government containing Bassil.

“I cannot work with these people anymore. He wants to run the country on his own and he must show moderation. How can one work with people who have a sectarian and racist rhetoric?” Hariri was quoted as saying.

Asked about accusations that Bassil is the one forming the new government, Aoun said: “Let’s suppose that Gebran Bassil is the one forming the government, doesn’t he have the right to do so? Isn’t he an MP and the head of the biggest bloc? But no, in fact it is not him who is forming it. Those who are supposed to form it are forming it.”

Aoun promised the Lebanese a ew government by end year

“Lebanon will manage to overcome its current crisis and the Lebanese will have a new government as a New Year’s gift.” Aoun told reporters

Asked whether he did not want Hariri to form the new government, the president said: “Is that why we waited 100 days?”

“We waited for Saad Hariri for 100 days without managing to resolve the crisis. He was hesitant. This is not how we form a government,” Aoun added.

Hariri has said that the Presidency is acting “as if nothing has happened in the country,” in reference to the economic crisis and the Oct. 17 popular revolt.

Asked about claims in the Western media that the government will be “Hezbollah’s government,” Aoun said: “Incorrect. A lot of parties are unhappy and they have resorted to publishing such news. The government will be the government of all Lebanese, including Hezbollah.”

He also said he believes that there will be a “government of experts” and not a so-called techno-political government.

Bassil is the one name that seems to be singled out often by the protesters as the most corrupt politician in Lebanon .

According to analysts familiar with what is going on behind the scenes in Lebanon , the cabinet is being formed will include experts that will be named by the political parties . Since the only parties that are backing the PM designate Hassan Diab are the parities aligned withe Hezbollah, it is expected that the cabinet will be one color cabinet.

Sources close to Hezbollah told Asharq Al-Awsat: “What is important is the formation of a government that can save the country. Along with our allies, we will provide all facilitations to make this mission possible.”

Asked why such facilitations were not provided to Hariri, the sources said: “Hariri is a political figure and therefore, he was bound to form a government of politicians or politicians and experts.”

Hariri withdrew his candidacy for PM after Hezbollah and its allies including Aoun refused to allow him to form a cabinet of independent experts

Speaker Nabih Berri said there is nothing wrong with forming a “one-sided” government if Diab fails to convince all political parties to participate in the cabinet he is about to form, media reports said on Tuesday.

“There is no problem” if the government is one-sided,” said Berri “many countries around the world form such governments,” he stated.

This stance stands in stark contrast with anti-government protests that had poured onto the streets since October 17and that been demanding the overhaul of the entire political class. They have called for the formation of a government of experts, who are not aligned with any of the political parties, which are deeply distrusted by the protesters and are accused of rampant corruption and of leading Lebanon to the brink of collapse.



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