Appointment of a new Lebanese PM rests on upcoming 48 hours of re-consultation

Riot police fire tear gas against the supporters of the Hezbollah and Amal Movement groups, who are trying to attack the anti-government protesters’ squares in Beirut. (AP)
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Updated 13 December 2019

Appointment of a new Lebanese PM rests on upcoming 48 hours of re-consultation

  • President Michel Aoun thinks that his country is in need of a techno-political government, sources tell Arab News

BEIRUT: The Free Patriotic Movement’s (FPM) latest decision not to participate in the next Lebanese government has created new difficulties in resolving the political crisis.

Sources close to the President Michel Aoun told Arab News that he considered his country in need of “a techno-political government,” but that: “The appointment of the prime minister does not need the consensus that was lost with the FPM’s boycott, but it is needed when forming the government.

“The parliamentary consultations will be held as planned, while parliamentary blocs are reviewing their decisions in light of the FPM’s withdrawal. Extensive communication is taking place between them to reach a decision in the next 48 hours.”

It is likely that the head of the caretaker government, Saad Hariri, will be reappointed as prime minister of the new government in light of the insistence of the highest Sunni authority.

Hariri is determined to form a government of experts capable of dealing with the difficult economic and financial situations the country is witnessing.

Hariri resigned on Oct. 29 following widespread protests against the government and political class.

The announcement of the International Support Group for Lebanon, from Paris last Wednesday, gave the Lebanese authorities a last and limited chance to achieve the necessary economic reforms and form a government that takes into consideration the demands of the protesters. 

FASTFACT

It is likely that Saad Hariri will be reappointed as prime minister of the new government in light of the insistence of the highest Sunni authority.

A source close to the interim prime minister said: “Hariri’s position regarding the next government is clear. It is focused on forming a government distant from the traditional quotas logic and capable of addressing the fears of the protesters and the economic threats facing the country.”

“The formation of the government is a right limited to the president and the prime minister.”

Former constitutional judge Khaled Kabbani told Arab News: “The formation situation is very foggy. Everyone is overwhelmed and things are changing rapidly.

“The formation of the government is under a lot of pressure and the latest announcement of the International Support Group for Lebanon reflects that. It wants a government that wins the trust of the protesters. We have to wait and see if it will play a role in resolving the crisis.”

Protestors had considered the latest FPM decision a win for their cause, while activists on social media confirmed that they would continue their movement against the political class, and would shift focus to tax disobedience.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Friday that the country's next government must bring all sides together so that it can tackle the country's worst economic crisis in decades.

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said his Iran-backed movement insists on its ally the FPM — Lebanon's largest Christian political bloc — taking part in the Cabinet.

In a televised speech, Nasrallah also said he hoped a new prime minister would be designated on Monday, but added that even so, forming a new Cabinet would not be easy.


Five civilians killed in Baghdad rocket attack

Updated 56 min 5 sec ago

Five civilians killed in Baghdad rocket attack

  • The rockets targeted the international airport but struck a residential home close by instead
  • Rocket attacks have become a frequent occurrence, often targeting the US Embassy in Baghdad and US troops present in Iraqi bases as well as Baghdad Airport

BAGHDAD: Iraqi militia groups fired two Katyusha rockets on a house in Baghdad, killing two women and three children and wounding two other children, the Iraqi military said on Monday.
The deaths were the first among Iraqi civilians in the latest outbreak of violence, during which Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militias have been blamed for targeting US interests in the country. Police sources said Baghdad airport was the target of the attack. 
The rocket was launched from the Al-Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad.
The attacks have become a frequent occurrence, often targeting the US Embassy in Baghdad, within the heavily fortified Green Zone, and US troops present in Iraqi bases as well as Baghdad Airport. Roadside bombs have also frequently targeted convoys carrying equipment destined for US-led coalition forces.
Previous attacks have caused minor damage but rarely deaths or injuries.
The frequency of the rockets have strained Iraq-US relations, prompting the Trump administration last week to threaten to close its diplomatic mission in Baghdad if Shiite militia groups believed to be orchestrating them are not reigned in.
The disparate nature of Shiite militias following the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani and Iranian militia leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis has complicated Iraqi efforts to clamp down on rogue armed elements.
A government raid on the powerful Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah, suspected of launching rocket attacks, backfired when those detained were released for want of evidence.