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A recent disagreement between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and designated Prime Minister Hassan Diab has returned discussions over the formation of a new government back to square one.

The dispute specifically centers on a new call by Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri for the formation of a government of politicians and technocrats.

In a statement on Friday, Diab said he would not bow to pressure he was being subjected to, stressing that he would not fail to complete his mission.

He reiterated that he was committed to the formation of a government of technocrats with a reduced number of ministers.

In response, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Salim Jreissati, from Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, issued a statement, saying that the president was the one who designates the prime minister, in consultation with the speaker of parliament.

“[The President] is not a postman or a ballot box in the designation process,” he remarked.

Ministerial sources close to the president told Asharq Al-Awsat that Jreissati’s statement was sufficient, adding that what happened “shows that things have returned to square one, at a stage that requires a reassessment of the entire process.”

The sources denied any pressure being exerted on Diab, stressing that the ball was in his court. But the sources noted that the political forces, which voted for Diab, entrusted him with forming a government of politicians and technocrats, a demand that he should not reject now.

The same sources underlined Berri’s call for a “national unification government”, a formula that is supported by Aoun and which his ally the Hezbollah party did not publicly reject.

On the other hand, sources close to the designated-premier reiterated his position regarding the formation of a non-partisan government of technocrats.

“When Diab was tasked to head the government, he accepted the mission according to these criteria. Today, with some people trying to change their positions, he will not back down from his stance,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Ash Sharq al Awsat

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