Lebanon’s Hariri says government formation may take more time

Lebanese Prime Minister designate Saad Al-Hariri said it may take more time to form a government despite elections having taking place on May 6. (Reuters)
Updated 14 August 2018
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Lebanon’s Hariri says government formation may take more time

  • Lebanese politicians have repeatedly warned that the country urgently needs to put a government in place, but they have jostled over cabinet positions
  • Lebanon’s tangled sectarian politics, has Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and Druze competing among themselves for ministries

BEIRUT: It may take Lebanese parties more time to form a coalition government, prime minister designate Saad Al-Hariri said on Tuesday more than three months after the general election.
“Perhaps we need more time to arrive at a final formula,” he said to reporters before a meeting of members of parliament from his party in Beirut.
Lebanese politicians have repeatedly warned that the country — which has one of the world’s highest rates of public debt — urgently needs to put a government in place, but they have jostled over cabinet positions.
“There is no doubt that some sides still stick to their terms, but, as we see, all of them retreat and concede a little,” he said, adding that the new government needed to include all sides.
The May 6 elections delivered a majority for the Shiite Hezbollah and its parliamentary allies, a reversal of the previous vote in 2009, when groups with Western and Saudi support won most seats.
The result has further complicated Lebanon’s tangled sectarian politics, as Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and Druze compete among themselves for ministries.
The delay in forming the government has prompted recriminations between rival parties.
Last week, Hezbollah members of parliament warned that the delay risked Lebanon “sliding toward tensions.”
“We are a state that has problems, and we must form a national unity government in which there is cooperation between all the parties. Otherwise we will create a problem in the cabinet,” Hariri said.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that Lebanon needs “an immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment” to make its public debt — which measures about 150 percent of gross domestic product — sustainable.


Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

Updated 22 September 2018
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Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

  • Saturday’s ruling by the Court of Cessation dashed any hope that Gamal Mubarak could run for public office.
  • Mubarak’s two sons are currently on trial for insider trading.

CAIRO: Egypt's highest appeals court on Saturday rejected a motion by former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to overturn their conviction on corruption charges.
The ruling by the Court of Cessation, Egypt's final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, dashed any hope that Gamal, Mubarak's younger son and one-time heir apparent, could run for public office. A senior newspaper editor and confidant of Egypt's current president had recently suggested that banker-turned-politician Gamal may have been contemplating the move.
The Mubarak trio was sentenced to three years each for embezzling funds meant for maintenance of presidential palaces but which they spent on upgrading or building private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while their father was freed last year. They repaid the funds, a total of 125 million pounds (about $7 million).
Mubarak's sons are currently on trial for insider trading. They are free on bail after a judge on Thursday overturned a surprise Sept. 15 ruling to detain them. The case's next hearing is on Oct. 20.
The rejection of their appeal Saturday and Gamal Mubarak's subsequent ineligibility to run for office came in the wake of recent comments by the chief editor of state-run Al-Akhbar publications, Yasser Rizq, who suggested that frequent public appearances by the younger Mubarak could be a prelude to a future presidential run.
Rizq first warned Gamal Mubarak against harboring presidential ambitions in an article published in May. He repeated the warning in a television interview aired earlier this week.
"His real crime is insulting the dignity of the Egyptian people," Rizq said, alluding to Gamal's one-time intention to succeed his father. It violated the constitution and amounted to the toppling of republican rule, he explained. He said it was not improbable that he would strike a political deal with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to secure the group's return to politics in exchange for its support in a presidential bid in 2022, when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi's second term ends.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was among the main drivers of a 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak's 29-year rule, as well as the military's support for it. The years that followed saw Mubarak regime heavyweights tried on corruption or abuse of power charges. Most have since walked free, while second-string regime loyalists found their way back to public life under El-Sissi.