September 20, 2021

Lebanon: Saad Hariri gives up forming a government

Saad Hariri announced on Thursday (July 15th) that he was giving up forming a government in Lebanon, following an interview with President Michel Aoun that lasted barely 20 minutes.

‘It is obvious that we will not be able to get along with His Excellency the President’, the Prime Minister-designate told reporters after this meeting. ‘This is why I am withdrawing from forming a government.’

Saad Hariri, who proposed a team of 24 ministers on Wednesday, told reporters that President Michel Aoun had called for amendments to the government’s list, changes to which he was opposed.

‘It is clear that [Michel Aoun’s] position has not changed on the subject and that we will not be able to agree,’ he said.

‘I offered him more time to think it over and he said’ We can’t come to an agreement ‘. That’s why I apologized for not being able to form the government, God help the country, ‘he added.

Saad Hariri’s attachment to a government of technocrats

Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri have repeatedly displayed their disagreements in recent months, especially during a public pass of arms last March, after yet another meeting which had turned to bitter accusations.

The Prime Minister-designate criticized the president for hampering the formation of the government by insisting on a ‘blocking minority’ within the next ministerial team and by seeking to impose a ‘confessional and partisan’ distribution of portfolios.

Saad Hariri, he reiterated his attachment to a government of technocrats, demanded internationally.

The presidency had denied any suggestion of a ‘blocking minority’ and expressed its ‘astonishment’ at the ‘remarks’ of the Prime Minister-designate.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon by the presidency, Michel Aoun said Saad Hariri had not shown willingness to discuss any changes to the proposal he had submitted the day before.

The press release of the Lebanese president’s services specifies that he will organize parliamentary consultations as soon as possible. However, no personality emerges in an obvious way to try to form a government, a task for a Sunni, according to the Lebanese Constitution.

Parties absorbed in their usual bargaining

Three times Prime Minister, Saad Hariri was once again appointed to this post on October 22, 2020, a year after his fall under pressure from the streets.

The current government, in charge of current affairs, resigned after the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, a coup de grace for a population already on its knees.

The gigantic blast was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse that housed tons of ammonium nitrate stored ‘without precautionary measures’ according to the authorities themselves. In addition to the more than 200 dead, the blast injured more than 6,500 and destroyed entire neighborhoods of the Lebanese capital.

A local investigation has still not yielded anything, no official having been held to account. Security forces fired tear gas on Tuesday at angry demonstrators protesting outside the residence in Beirut of a minister accused of blocking the investigation into the explosion.

Almost a year later, the parties remain absorbed in their usual bargaining in a multi-faith country put in cuts regulated by the barons of the various communities.

Before Saad Hariri, Moustapha Adib, a diplomat little known to the general public appointed at the end of August to form a government, had also failed in the face of party resistance to his cabinet proposal.