News ID: 274512
Published: 0416 GMT September 21, 2020

Lebanese president says cabinet formation needs miracle

Lebanese president says cabinet formation needs miracle

President Michel Aoun warned on Monday Lebanon was going "to hell" if a new government was not formed, and said agreeing one could need a miracle after positions had hardened between rival factions.

When asked where Lebanon was headed if there was no agreement, Aoun said "of course, to hell", Reuters reported.

Asked by reporters if his comments meant there was no hope of a new government, he said: "No, there might be a miracle".

"We are today facing a government formation crisis which should not have happened because the events that await Lebanon do not allow a minute to be wasted," said the president, a Maronite Christian under the country's sectarian power-sharing system.

Aoun said the premier did not want to consult parliamentary blocs, which should not be excluded. At the same time, he added, it was not permissible for one party to impose ministers and the Constitution did not allocate any ministry to any specific sect.

"With the hardening of positions there does not appear to be any solution on the horizon because all the proposed solutions amount to a 'victor and a vanquished'," he said.

Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, said his proposals for compromise had not been accepted. He depicted the problem as a standoff between the Shia parties on the one hand and Sunni Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib along with former prime ministers who support him on the other.

Adib called earlier for all sides to cooperate to form a government.

Last week, reports suggested Adib may step down. He had proposed switching control of ministries, some of which have been held by the same factions for years.

French President Emmanuel Macron had called Lebanese politicians as Paris tried pressing them to name a cabinet swiftly and embark on reforms.

The economy is collapsing after decades of state waste, graft and mounting debt. Banks have frozen people out of their savings and the currency has crashed. Inflation and poverty have soared.

With the country running out of dollars, the central bank has helped subsidize fuel, wheat and medicine imports.

Asked about dwindling foreign currency reserves after his Monday speech, Aoun said: "The money will run out. What can we say? (To) those in charge of managing the money, why did this happen?"



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