Breaking: No breakthrough in Lebanon govt. formation after president, PM-designate meet
A much-anticipated meeting between Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to discuss the formation of a new government and end a high-level political standoff in the cash-strapped Arab country has failed to achieve any breakthrough.
According to reports, Hariri, designated acting prime minister in October, said after meeting with Aoun in Baabda Palace on Monday that the president sent him his own cabinet lineup the previous night, which he did not approve on grounds that it was unconstitutional for a Lebanese president to form a government.
Aoun sent a list suggesting different scenarios for a cabinet of either 18, 20 or 22 ministers, with names to be filled in, Hariri said.
Lebanese president “surprised” by Hariri’s remarks
A presidency spokesman said later on Monday that Aoun was “surprised” by Hariri’s remarks that the 86-year-old Lebanese leader had insisted on a blocking majority in a new government.
“Any comments by the prime minister-designate that it is not up to the president to form (a cabinet) … are unacceptable,” the spokesman said.
The leaders have frequently traded blame for the government formation delay, with Aoun calling on Hariri to step down if he is incapable of immediately forming a government suitable for all parties. Political pundits are skeptical the two would clinch a deal.
The government of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, resigned in the wake of a massive explosion at Beirut port on August 4 last year, which ravaged the heart of residential areas and the city’s vibrant commercial district.
More than 200 people were killed and over 6,000 others injured in the giant blast. Dozens of people are still unaccounted for.