Lebanese political parties were surprised at President Michel Aoun’s decision to postpone the binding parliamentary consultations, which were scheduled to be held on Thursday, especially as a quasi-agreement had been reached to designate former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to lead the new government.
The office of the Presidency said that Aoun’s decision was based on the request of some parliamentary blocs to delay the consultations to resolve some new obstacles. Both the Free Patriotic Movement, headed by Aoun’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil, and the Lebanese Forces party have rejected the nomination of Hariri.
In response, Speaker Nabih Berri and Hariri expressed resentment at the president’s move. Berri explicitly told Aoun that he was against the postponement, “even for a day.”
The former premier, for his part, stressed that there was no explanation for this decision.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, a former prime minister said that the president has met Bassil’s request in this regard, stressing that Samir Geagea’s LF party had not called for the delay of the consultations.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun contacted French President Emmanuel Macron, justifying the postponement as an attempt to gain wider Christian support for Hariri’s designation.
But the president failed to dispel the French resentment, especially as Macron wanted to see a proof of the political parties’ willingness to abide by the French initiative.
The political sources said that France was extremely disturbed by the irresponsible step that will plunge the country into a new round of political bickering, instead of creating the favorable conditions for the birth of the new government.
In this context, the former prime minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that by postponing the binding consultations, Aoun was now facing a problem with Berri, along with the other political components.
He stressed that the president has reinforced the prevailing belief that he was giving Bassil the last say in the political consultations, which has become evident even to the French side.
Asharq A Awsat