Prime Minister-designate, Mustafa Adib, was supposed to travel to Baabda Wednesday morning, but he asked to postpone the meeting with president Michel Aoun until Thursday . “LBC” reported
The delay comes after a phone call with the French President Emmanuel Macron in which Adib informed him of his intention to step down. Macron responded, by asking him to wait until Thursday .
“LBC” revealed that the Shiite duo has rejected all the offers made in the government, continues to insist on retaining hold on the Finance Ministry, which has been held by a Shiite close to Berri and Hezbollah for the past 10 years and also insisting on naming their own ministers.
France said on Wednesday it regretted that Lebanese political leaders have failed to form a new government in line with a commitment made to President Emmanuel Macron, but that it was not too late to do so.
The statement by Macron’s office came after Lebanese politicians missed a 15-day deadline to form a crisis Cabinet, with many remaining deadlocked on Wednesday on which political faction gets to have the key portfolio of the finance ministry.
The deadline was set as part of a French initiative by President Macron who has been pressing the leaders in Lebanon to form a Cabinet made up of specialists who can work on enacting urgent reforms to extract the country from a devastating economic and financial crisis.
“It is not yet too late: everyone must assume their responsibilities and finally act in the sole interest of Lebanon by allowing Moustapha Adib to form a government that reflects the seriousness of the situation,” the French statement said, referring to the Lebanese prime minister-desginate.
The French leader has described his initiative, which includes a road map and a timetable for reforms, as “the last chance for this system.”
While initially committing to the plan and naming a new prime minister-designate who promised to deliver a Cabinet within two weeks, Lebanese politicians have been unable to meet the deadline amid divisions over the initiative itself and the manner in which the government formation is being carried out, away from the usual consultations and horse-trading among political factions.
Shiite Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.who heads the Hezbollah-allied Shiite Amal movement, is now insisting on retaining hold on the Finance Ministry, which has been held by a Shiite close to Berri and Hezbollah for the past 10 years. He has also objected to the way the Cabinet formation was being undertaken, apparently angered that Adib has not been consulting them.
Last chance to save Lebanon
Walid Joumblatt, a leading politician and head of the Progressive Socialist Party said some people “do not understood or do not want to understand that the French initiative is the last chance to save Lebanon and prevent its demise.”
Macron has visited Lebanon twice in less than a month, trying to force change on its leadership amid the crises and last month’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port.
Lebanon, a former French protectorate, is mired in the country’s worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. It defaulted on paying back its debt for the first time ever in March, and the local currency has collapsed, leading to hyperinflation and soaring poverty and unemployment.
The small, cash-strapped country is in desperate need of financial assistance but France and other international powers have refused to provide aid before serious reforms are made. The crisis is largely blamed on decades of systematic corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling class.
The Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group which is considered a terrorist organization by the US and several Arab countries does not appear to be too concerned about the Lebanese economy primarily because it is controlled and funded by the al Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ( IRGC) . In addition the group is involved in money laundering , drug trafficking and smuggling operations through the Beirut port, airport and several illegal border crossings .
As a result of the sanctions on Iran, Hezbollah has been increasingly relying on criminal revenue streams from a wide array of sources that include the Lebanese diaspora, group members, affiliates, sympathizers, and unwitting collaborators. The organization has even been competing for money laundering contracts in the same manner as Colombian cartels and other criminal organizations in south America , Africa and North and Central America.
Currently Hezbollah controls all the 3 branches of government ; the presidency through its ally president Aoun, the parliament through its ally Speaker Berri and the government through its chosen caretaker PM Hassan Diab