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Friday, May 21, 2021, 15:12
Lebanon PM-designate incapable of forming govt, says president
By Reuters
Friday, May 21, 2021, 15:12 By Reuters

This handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra on March 22, 2021 shows Lebanese President Michel Aoun (left) meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut. (DALATI AND NOHRA / AFP)

BEIRUT - Lebanon's parliament will convene on Friday to discuss a letter written by the president saying Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri had shown he was incapable of forming a government that could pull the nation out of financial crisis.

The letter, seen by Reuters, follows months of political negotiations in a country where allegiances tend to follow sectarian lines. It was addressed to parliament, which will convene on Friday to discuss it after it is read out.

It has become evident that the prime minister-designate is unable to form a government capable of salvation and meaningful contact with foreign financial institutions, international funds and donor countries.

Michel Aoun, Lebanese president

The existing government has been acting in a caretaker capacity since resigning after a huge explosion in a portside warehouse tore through Beirut in August. The blast further complicated the task of rescuing an economy that has been in tailspin since late 2019.

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"It has become evident that the prime minister-designate is unable to form a government capable of salvation and meaningful contact with foreign financial institutions, international funds and donor countries," President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, wrote in his letter.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who like his assassinated father has headed several previous governments, was asked to form another one in October, after a previous prime minister-designate failed to form a cabinet of technocrats after several weeks of trying.

Western and other donors, led by former colonial power France, have said Lebanon needs to form a viable cabinet of technocrats or specialists before they will release funds to support the crippled country. Talks with the International Monetary Fund have stumbled.

READ MORE: From friend to foe: EU prepares sanctions on Lebanon

Gulf states, who in the past could be relied up to provide financial support, are now reluctant to step because of frustrations over the rising influence of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi'ite group backed by their regional rival Iran.

Tensions with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations were stoked this week by disparaging comments about them by the foreign minister during a television interview. The minister quit his caretaker post shortly afterwards.


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