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President Michel Aoun gives his Prime Minister-designate an ultimatum




President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri are unable to agree on a team to lead the country (photo: Lebanese Presidency)
President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri are unable to agree on a team to lead the country (photo: Lebanese Presidency)
LEBANON. After five months of political deadlock, Lebanon is still without a government, while the economic and social situation continues to deteriorate. Chosen at the end of October 2020 to succeed Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who resigned after the explosion in the Port of Beirut in August 2020, Saad Hariri has not been able to put together his team. Tensions remain high in this communitarian regime where the Sunni of the Future party must satisfy his camp, but also the Shiites of Hezbollah and the Christians of the Free Patriotic Current (FPC). The latter movement was founded by President Michel Aoun who, in a speech on the evening of Wednesday 17 March 2021, slammed his fist on the table in the face of this immobility. He now offers two options to the Prime Minister-designate: "to form a government immediately" in agreement with the Presidency, or if he "cannot set up and preside over a government of national salvation, capable of tackling the dangerous situation in the country and from which the Lebanese people are suffering, he will have to give up his place to another person capable of doing so."

The Lebanese President does not mince his words accusing Saad Hariri of having "wasted precious time" and "dragged the country into a dead end." According to him, the suffering of the Lebanese has "reached a level that no people can bear. To the epidemic that perseveres and lasts, have been added poverty, misery, unemployment, emigration, loss of purchasing power due to the senseless rise of the US dollar against the Lebanese pound, shortages of essential products..."

Indeed, the Lebanese currency continues to plummet. After the £10,000 to $1 mark recorded in early March 2021, the currency has just reached, on Tuesday 17 March 2021, the £15,000 mark. Lebanon is in a situation of suspension of payments since March 2020.

 

Saad Hariri calls for an early presidential election

The Gordian knot of the political problem lies in the granting of the blocking third required by the president for his formation the CPL. But also by the desire of Michel Aoun to obtain for his party the Ministry of Justice and especially that of the Interior. The position becomes even more strategic as three elections are scheduled for 2022 (municipal, legislative and presidential).

Saad Hariri immediately reacted to President Aoun's speech by indicating that he would go, specifying "for the seventeenth time", to Baabda (headquarters of the Presidency of the Lebanese Republic) to "discuss the draft submitted to the President for weeks, in order to be able to form the cabinet immediately." He adds, "however, if the president is unable to sign the decree to form a cabinet of non-partisan technocrats, as required, he will have to explain to the Lebanese the real reason why he is obstructing the will of the parliament that appointed the prime minister and has prevented him for many months from paving the way to rescue." The answer ends in a blow when he suggests to Michel Aoun to "schedule an early presidential election, which will be the only possible constitutional way to cancel the effects of his election five years ago to the presidency by the Parliament that appointed me Prime Minister-designate five months ago."

 

Eric Apim


Thursday, March 18th 2021



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