Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is reportedly trying to convince former PM Najib Miqati to lead the new government, according to media reports
“Former – PM Saad Hariri has suggested during a meeting for the former PMs to nominate either Najib Miqati or Tammam Salam, but he ran into their objections after they said that cooperation with president Michel Aoun is impossible ,” Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted parliamentary sources as saying on Wednesday .
“But Berri is hoping that, in cooperation with Hariri and the former PMs, he might convince Miqati to reconsider his decision,” the sources added.
“The parliament speaker is against the formation of a one-sided government that resembles the current resigned government of PM Diab a” the sources went on to say.
The sources also revealed that Berri has communicated with Hezbollah’s leadership and with Hariri and Miqati because “he has no intention to agree to a one-sided government that lacks the ability to deal with the international community and secure any help for the economy.”
This development comes after Hariri surprisingly resigned his mission as the designate PM which plunged the country into darkness. As he walked out of his meeting with Aoun of the crisis-stricken nation, his final words were reportedly “God help Lebanon.”
In Lebanon’s power-sharing arrangement, the prime minister must be a Sunni, the president a Christian, and the speaker of parliament a Shiite. Nine months ago, Hariri was brought back as the consensus Sunni candidate to form a new and clean government that would usher in reforms and secure a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Since then, he has presented his cabinet to President Michel Aoun 18 times, but to no avail.
Hariri tried to convince Aoun of the merits of a nonpartisan 24-member cabinet equally split among Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. Aoun, aging and determined to bequeath the presidency to his son-in-law and former Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, however, refused to relent, reportedly at Bassil’s behest. He demanded more than eight ministries to acquire a veto over all decisions, and he also infringed on the constitutional right of the prime minister by insisting on choosing them.
“During the conversation, the president requested amendments which I considered to be substantial in the lineup,” Hariri told the press. Bassil disagreed with a three-way split of power on the basis of the 1989 Taif Accord, which ended a 15-year civil war by dividing power among the country’s sects. Bassil, often described as the most despised politician in the country, hopes that fighting for more Christians in government will increase his popularity among that group and ensure his return to power in the next elections. The hardship that all Lebanese will have to endure in the interim in the absence of a full-fledged government does not seem to be his top concern.
Over the last few months, Lebanon’s decline has become more visible. Queues for fuel are longer, and garbage is strewn all over the pavements. Little children are sifting through the garbage to make a living and could be Syrian refugees, but with the Lebanese also plunging into poverty, it could be them too. There is a stench of rotting garbage in the air mixed with copious amounts of hopelessness.