Lebanon's President Michel Aoun welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (L) welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron (R) upon his arrival at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon
Photo: Reuters
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (L) welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron (R) upon his arrival at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon

Macron presses Lebanese politicians as cabinet deadline looms

As international groups and donors condition millions in aid to ailing nation on thorough political reforms, PM-designate Adib expected to present government outline Monday

Reuters |
Published: 09.13.20 , 18:10
French President Emmanuel Macron has been pressing Lebanese politicians to deliver on promises to form a new government this week and haul the country out of its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, his office said on Sunday.
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  • Lebanon's leaders promised Macron on Sept. 1, during his visit to Beirut, that they would form a cabinet of technocrats without party loyalties in about two weeks to end a crippling economic crisis made worse by a huge Aug. 4 blast in the capital.
    Lebanon's President Michel Aoun welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon Lebanon's President Michel Aoun welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon
    Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (L) welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron (R) upon his arrival at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon
    (Photo: Reuters)
    An official source said Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib was expected to present his plan for a cabinet to Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday, seeking to accelerate a process that typically takes months of haggling over ministries.
    "The (French) president continues his calls with the various political players in Lebanon," the French presidential Elysee palace said, without giving details about any discussions.
    Macron held phone talks on Saturday with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a top Shi'ite politician, in an effort to remove an obstacle over the finance ministry post, which is traditionally controlled by Shi'ites, a political ally of Berri said.
    Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri
    Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Berri, head of the Amal Movement, an ally of the politically powerful and heavily armed Shi'ite group Hezbollah, said in a statement on Sunday his group opposed the manner the cabinet was being formed, citing a lack of consultation, and did not want to join. But he said he would cooperate to stabilize the nation.
    Donors have demanded reforms to unlock billions of dollars in aid that was originally pledged in 2018 but never disbursed.
    France has drawn up a detailed roadmap for tackling endemic corruption and dealing with a host of other economic problems that have paralyzed the banking system and sent the currency into a tailspin, plunging many Lebanese into poverty.
    Protesters throw stones against the Lebanese riot police, during anti-government protest following Tuesday's massive explosion which devastated Beirut, Lebanon Protesters throw stones against the Lebanese riot police, during anti-government protest following Tuesday's massive explosion which devastated Beirut, Lebanon
    Protesters throw stones at Lebanese riot police, during anti-government protests following massive explosion which devastated Beirut, Lebanon
    (Photo: AP)
    The prime minister-designate, a Sunni, has made few public comments. But sources say he wants to shake up the leadership of ministries, some of which have been controlled by the same groups for years.
    Any government will need the blessing and support of the main Christian and Muslim factions to function and ensure it conforms with Lebanon's sectarian system of power-sharing.
    Political sources say Berri's position towards the new cabinet hardened after the United States imposed sanctions last week on allies of Hezbollah, a group Washington deems a terrorist group but which Paris says has a legitimate political role.

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