US ‘Unclear’ on Whether Lebanon’s Designated Prime Minister Can Form a Government

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US ‘Unclear’ on Whether Lebanon’s Designated Prime Minister Can Form a Government

David Schenker, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, told reporters Washington supports the demonstrators and their call for reform and anti-corruption in the country.

“We believe it’s time for Lebanon’s leaders to put aside partisan interests and act in the national interest, advancing reforms, and form a government that’s committed to implement them and to fighting corruption,” he said.

Protests broke out in Lebanon in October, eventually forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign. His decision to step down threw the country’s political and economic outlook into limbo.

Last week, Mr Diab was designated by a slight parliamentarian majority to form a new government, but he has yet to find consensus and the protests have only gained momentum since the announcement.

On Monday, a US senior official said: “Although we have a prime minister-designate, it’s unclear whether they will be able to find a government, be able to form a government.”

Washington’s position is less about the militant group Hezbollah’s share in next government and more about its platform, the official explained, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Hezbollah’s been a partner in the last government… we find a way to work with the Lebanese government that is productive within certain constraints.”

Still, the official said the US was “highly sceptical” that a government led by Hezbollah would be capable of or committed to fighting corruption.

“This is an organisation that depends greatly on corruption for its survival and funding its criminal enterprise and terrorist activities,” he said.

The US undersecretary for political affairs David Hale visited Lebanon last week, where he met Mr Hariri, President Michel Aoun, Speaker of the House Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

Source: The National

Author: Joyce Karam