Lebanon’s Hariri says concessions made, hopes for govt formation soon

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri looks on as he speaks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018
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Lebanon’s Hariri says concessions made, hopes for govt formation soon

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri said on Tuesday all political sides had made concessions and he hoped a new government would be formed after President Michel Aoun returns from a trip abroad.
In the more than five months since a parliamentary election in May, politicians have been unable to agree a unity government that can get to work on badly needed economic reforms.
Lebanon, which has the world’s third largest public debt as a proportion of national output, faces an economic crisis if the political stalemate drags on, politicians have said.
“There are concessions from all sides, including the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM),” Hariri told reporters after a meeting of his Future Movement party.
“We hope for the formation of a government after the return of the president from Yerevan because the economic and social situation calls for a speedy government formation,” he said.
Aoun is expected to return from Armenia on Friday.
Rivalry between the two leading Christian parties — Aoun’s FPM, allied to the Hezbollah movement, and the anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces (LF) — is widely seen as the main obstacle to a deal.
Hariri said his optimism that a government could be formed soon stemmed from a meeting he had with Aoun last Wednesday.
Hariri said on Thursday he believed the government would be formed within a week to 10 days because the economy could not tolerate further delay.
The formation of a new government would allow Lebanon to begin the substantial fiscal adjustment that the International Monetary Fund says it needs to improve its debt sustainability.
It would also likely unlock more than $11 billion worth of infrastructure investment pledged at a donors’ meeting in Paris in April.
“We are wrong if we think the world will wait for us to save ourselves. There are loans that won’t wait,” Hariri said.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 55 min 33 sec ago
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.