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.


Rescue mission aids starving lions in neglected Sudan zoo

Updated 2 min 7 sec ago

Rescue mission aids starving lions in neglected Sudan zoo

KHARTOUM: Four lions in a rundown zoo in the capital of Sudan, wasting away from hunger, are undergoing lifesaving medical treatment from an international animal rescue organization.

The plight of the rail-thin lions in Al-Qurashi Park in Khartoum set off an outpouring of sympathy and donations from around the world. At least five lions, both male and female, once inhabited the zoo. One lioness died of starvation last week.

On Tuesday, veterinarians and wildlife experts from Vienna-based animal welfare group Four Paws International conducted medical checks at the park, which has fallen on hard times for lack of money and attention.

Amir Khalil, head of the Four Paws emergency mission, said he was “shocked” by the poor state of the lions, their cramped quarters and the park’s general disarray.

“I don’t understand why no one was given the task of feeding them or how authorities could just overlook this,” he said, describing two of the remaining four as in critical condition, “dehydrated ... a third of their normal weight.”

Four Paws faces a daunting task and its two-day trip has been dogged by challenges from the start. 

When the team arrived late on Monday, customs agents confiscated most of their luggage and essential medicine, citing a lack of prior approval. The group says it’s operating with just a fraction of its equipment, and scrambling to find local alternatives.

Although the group typically carries out rescue missions, it has no immediate plan to transport the animals in Al-Qurashi to better conditions abroad.