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Lebanon: Hariri Has Not ‘Retreated’ to France as Govt. Formation Stalls

Lebanon: Hariri Has Not ‘Retreated’ to France as Govt. Formation Stalls

Tuesday, 6 November, 2018 - 07:30
President Michel Aoun meets with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. (Dalati & Nohra)

Efforts to form a new Lebanese government after months of negotiations remained obstructed Monday by the dispute over Sunni representation, with no breakthrough in sight and amid claims that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had “retreated” to France.

MP Bahia Hariri denied the allegations, explaining that he can take all the time he needs to form his government.

Last Thursday, Hariri traveled to Paris without offering any details about the latest developments related to the cabinet formation process.

Local MTV television said he will remain in Paris to attend the World War I commemorations scheduled for November 11.

The channel quoted sources from the Presidential Palace as saying that no breakthrough was made in regard to solving the Sunni dispute.

“There are no developments in regard to the government formation process. Things remain at a standstill,” the sources said.

The issue of Sunni representation erupted in recent weeks with Hezbollah insisting on appointing these ministers from its March 8 bloc.

However, President Michel Aoun said last week the independent Sunni deputies, who demand a ministerial portfolio, “do not form a bloc,” backing Hariri’s stance.

Meanwhile, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called Monday for facilitating the cabinet formation process, instead of placing obstacles and hurdles.

“We all stand in solidarity with the President and we want all parties to support his position,” he said after holding talks with Aoun. He added that solutions should not take place at the expense of Lebanon, unity and internal balance. 

The patriarch also underlined the dire need to support Aoun and Hariri’s efforts to form a cabinet.

Separately, Speaker Nabih Berri called on Monday parliament to convene in a legislative session on November 12 and 13.

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