Lebanon’s Aoun intervening in stalled effort to form government

Lebanese President Aoun said on Tuesday he was intervening in stalled efforts to form a new national unity government, warning the country faced “catastrophe” if this failed. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Lebanon’s Aoun intervening in stalled effort to form government

  • More than six months since an election, efforts to form the new cabinet led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri are still logjammed with rival groups vying for cabinet posts
  • Lebanon is in dire need of a government able to implement the economic reforms the IMF says are needed to put its public debt on a sustainable path

BEIRUT: Iran was accused on Tuesday of sabotaging the formation of a government in Lebanon as President Michel Aoun intervened to try to end the impasse.

Political negotiations have been deadlocked since elections in May, in a row over representation in the Cabinet for six Sunni members of Parliament allied with Hezbollah. The 30 ministerial posts are allocated according to a sectarian political system.

“The issue is associated with what Iran wants and what it is given, to agree to the formation of a government or to continue hampering it,” the Minister of Refugees Affairs, Moeen Al-Marabi, a member of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement parliamentary bloc, told Arab News.

President Aoun said: “We are launching an initiative ... and it has to succeed, because if it doesn’t ... there is a catastrophe, we want to say it with all frankness, and this is the reason for my intervention.” 

He has held meetings with Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah representative Mohammed Raad MP. 

Hariri left Lebanon on Tuesday to attend an economic forum in London on investment and structural reforms in Lebanon. “God willing, we will find solutions,” he said.

“There are those who wish to form a government while others do not. We must give the president the chance to conduct his consultations.

“Everyone will be held accountable if a solution is not reached, not only the president and me.”


Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 min 18 sec ago
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Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”