BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri failed yet again on Monday to agree on a new cabinet.
No further meeting was scheduled, casting a further shadow over a country facing economic ruin and deteriorating living conditions for its long-suffering population.
Hariri accused Aoun of sending him a list of names for the cabinet based on sectarian and political affiliations that maintained a blocking majority for the president and his allies.
“It is not the duty of the president to form a government,” Hariri told the media at Baabda Palace after the meeting.
According to the Lebanese constitution, “it is the prime minister designate who suggests the ministers’ names and discusses the formation process with the president,” Hariri added.
He said he declined to accept Aoun’s list but kept a copy with him “for the sake of history.”
Hariri told Aoun that he sticks to the list he proposed more than 100 days ago but that he was willing to be more flexible in discussing “amendments in suggested names and ministries.”
Hariri said his main goal was to stop Lebanon’s economic collapse and said he called on Aoun “to listen to peoples’ suffering and give the country its only hope by forming an experts’ government capable of setting reforms to stop the downfall.”
Hariri gave out copies of the proposed government that he had given to Aoun in December. He said he would “let the public be the judge.”
Hariri’s proposed cabinet included four Sunnis, four Shiites, four Maronite christians, three orthodox christians, one Catholic, one Armenian and a Druze to represent the country’s various religions and sects.
Hariri’s proposed cabinet:
Health minister: Dr Firas Abiad
Environment and social affairs minister: Nasser Yassin,
Justice minister: Lubna Miskawi
Finance minister: Yousef Khalil
Labor minister: Maya Kanaan
Transport and public works minister: Ibrahim Chahrour
Tourism and administrative development: Jihad Mourtada
Agriculture and Foreign Affairs: Rabih Narsh
Defence minister: Antoine Klimos
Culture minister: Fadia Kiwan
Education minister: Abdo Gergess
Information, youth and sports minister: Walid Nassar
Economy minister: Saade Al-Chami
Water and power minister: Joe Sadi
Interior minister: Ziad Abu Haidar
Telecommunication minister: Fadi Samaha
Industry and displaced minister: Karpet Slekhanian
Aoun hit back at Hariri’s comments. His office issued a statement saying it was surprised and sorry for Hariri’s “emotional attitude.”
The latest spat came after a hint of positivity on Thursday when the two last met and Hariri said the priority was to form a government that would restart talks with the International Monetary Fund to save Lebanon’s economy.
Lebanon is in a deep financial crisis that poses the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Since 2019, politicians have failed to agree a rescue plan to unlock foreign cash which Lebanon desperately needs.