PM Hariri: Still working to form Lebanese government

“Contacts continue to form a government and the issue is not impossible, as some are trying to suggest,” prime minister designate Saad Hariri said. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2018
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PM Hariri: Still working to form Lebanese government

BEIRUT: Efforts to form a new Lebanese government after months of negotiation remain “on their way to a solution,” prime minister designate Saad Hariri said on Monday.
Last week President Michel Aoun said a government would be formed “very soon” and a government source said it would be agreed during the weekend, but press reports on Monday cited senior politicians saying problems persisted.
Parties have been jostling since May’s parliament election over ministerial positions in a new national unity government, but the political uncertainty has contributed to fears that Lebanon faces a looming economic crisis.
“Contacts continue to form a government and the issue is not impossible, as some are trying to suggest,” Hariri said in televised comments to reporters.
Lebanon has one of the world’s most indebted governments, owing about 150 percent of gross domestic product, and the International Monetary Fund warned early this year that Beirut must urgently undertake fiscal reforms.
President Aoun said in a Twitter post on Monday that circumstances required a rapid formation of the government.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.