Feuding Lebanon Factions to Unveil PM Picks Monday

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Feuding Lebanon Factions to Unveil PM Picks Monday

Lebanon is to hold parliamentary consultations on the choice of a new prime minister Monday, three weeks after the government resigned over a deadly Beirut blast, the president's office said.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to land in Lebanon the same day to hammer home his message of the need for change already made during his last visit on August 6, two days after the explosion that killed more than 180 people and disfigured the heart of the capital.

Representatives of the country's parliamentary blocs and independent lawmakers are to head to the presidential palace on Monday morning to announce who they would like to head a new government.

But the country's deeply divided political class has so far failed to reach any consensus on a suitable candidate to be prime minister, a position always held by a Sunni Muslim.

"Consultations to shrug off responsibility after the gravest French warning," read Friday's headline in the An-Nahar daily, referring to the rush to start consultations despite the lack of consensus.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday that Lebanon risked "disappearing" as a country if serious reforms were not undertaken.

After the consultations, President Michel Aoun will task the nominee with forming a new cabinet to represent the country's myriad of political parties and religious sects, an often drawn-out process that can drag on for months.

Among the names circulated in the press is that of independent candidate Nawaf Salam, a former Lebanese ambassor to the United Nations.

But Shiite party Hezbollah, which controls a parliamntary majority with its allies and whose choice will likely be decisive, has rejected a "neutral government", and instead wants one gathering all the country's political forces.

Parliament speaker and head of the Shiite Amal party, Nabih Berri, suggested again nominating former prime minister Saad Hariri, who resigned under street pressure last autumn.

But Hariri said this week he had no intention of returning to the post.

The explosion of a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate fertiliser in the port of Beirut on August 4 also injured thousands of people and left tens of thousands more homeless, piling on new misery after months of economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic.

 

Source: AFP