A silent crisis has emerged between Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, due to the latter’s refusal to respond to the president’s insistence on the holding of a cabinet session.
Ministerial sources well-informed of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that Diab – who moved immediately to his home in Talat al-Khayyat in Beirut following his resignation – attends his office in the Grand Serail only periodically and insists not to convene the Council of Ministers, but presides over ministerial committee meetings to manage the country’s affairs “within very narrow limits.”
The sources added that Diab has been taking lately unprecedented security measures as he moves from his home to the Serail, saying that his refusal to meet Aoun’s demand was based on several considerations, including the “unfounded allegations against him in the port explosion case”.
Moreover, the caretaker prime minister sees that he was forced to resign after Aoun dismissed the government in response to the wishes of his political heir, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil.
According to the sources, Diab wants the new government to be formed immediately and fears the negative repercussions of hindering its birth, amid rumors that his caretaking role would last until the end of Aoun’s tenure.
Thus, his compliance with Aoun’s desire to hold a cabinet session will push him into a political clash with the Sunni street, which will see his consent as an agreement with the president to obstruct the formation of the new government.
Also, the sources noted that Diab would not provide the political cover for the adoption by the Cabinet of an inflated budget that is intended to divert attention from the high deficit in return for the decrease in imports due to the lack of a reform plan.