Lebanon PM urges parties to help form overdue cabinet

adib aoun

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib on Monday urged competing political forces to step up and help him form a desperately needed independent government to save the crisis-hit country.

President Michel Aoun is shown with prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib at the Baabda Palace Thursday Sept 17

Adib is under pressure to form a fresh cabinet line-up as soon as possible so the new government can launch a raft of reforms required to unlock billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Lebanon was mired in its worst economic crisis in decades and battling the novel coronavirus pandemic, even before one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions at the Beirut port last month.

“Any further delay will exacerbate and deepen the crisis,” Adib said in a statement.

Adib’s remarks came after a French-imposed deadline to form the cabinet passed last week.

The premier-designate appealed to all political forces to “work towards the success of the French initiative immediately and without delay” to help rescue the country.

“The Lebanese people’s woes… require the cooperation of all sides to facilitate forming a crisis government” of independents, he said.

Adib’s efforts to form a government have been effectively blocked by the two main Shiite groups in Lebanon’s usual power-sharing arrangement — Amal and Hezbollah.

Observers have said their insistence to keep the finance ministry is linked to recent US sanctions against a former minister from Amal, as well as Hezbollah-linked businesses.

The August 4 explosion of hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands, and ravaged large parts of the capital.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun finally admitted in a televised address on Monday that the country was going “to hell” if his allies the so called Shiite duo continue to sabotage the government formation by insisting on naming the Shiite ministers to the cabinet including the finance minister.

Aoun signed an agreement with Hezbollah in 2006 which gave the militant group a Christian cover to do whatever they wanted in the region. The group now controls the presidency the parliament and the cabinet.