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Mustaqbal, FPM Tensions Strain 2016 Presidential Settlement

Mustaqbal, FPM Tensions Strain 2016 Presidential Settlement

Monday, 3 June, 2019 - 06:00
Prime Minister Saad Hariri receives Minister of Foreign Affairs Jebran Bassil in Beirut. (NNA)

The latest dispute between Lebanon's Mustaqbal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement did not lead to the collapse of the settlement reached between Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun three years ago, informed ministerial sources said Sunday.

They said a presidential settlement that allowed Aoun to be elected in 2016, ending more than two years of deadlock, was rather deeply strained.

The ministerial sources uncovered to Asharq Al-Awsat that the political dispute between Mustaqbal chief, Hariri and head of the FPM, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, was not due to a recent military court ruling that acquitted Internal Security Forces Major Suzanne al-Hajj.

The dispute only helped bring the differences out in the open, the sources said.

The sources said Hariri and the majority ministers were annoyed when Bassil insisted on extending cabinet sessions that were studying the 2019 draft budget. They said that he sought to show himself as the savior of the budget and as the person who prevented the economy from collapsing.

The cabinet approved the budget last week.

However, the sources said it is not in Aoun’s interest for the settlement to collapse, which demands his intervention to end the tensions.

Some parties are, however, hoping for its failure in order to replace Hariri, they revealed.

“This will surely lead the country to crisis,” they warned.

The current tensions were necessary to deliver a message to Bassil that he needed to reconsider his “unacceptable” political behavior and quit seeking to seize all political power to himself, they said.

Moreover, they wondered how Bassil could possibly dream of becoming president when he is at odds with the majority of political powers, save for his ally, the Hezbollah party?

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