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International Support Group Advises Lebanon’s Leaders to Create ‘Political Shock’

International Support Group Advises Lebanon’s Leaders to Create ‘Political Shock’

Friday, 25 October, 2019 - 06:45
A Lebanese woman holds up a sign demanding that the country's ruling elites pay up on the sixth day of protests in Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut, on Tuesday. Joseph Eid/AFP

The International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon informed officials in Beirut that the government should make a “political shock” along with the quick implementation of reforms approved by the cabinet in its last session, ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

During their meetings with Lebanese officials, ISG representatives avoided discussing details of the shock that they hope would produce a change to meet the demands of protesters.

“However, the Group noted that Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat do not object a cabinet reshuffle on condition that it receives the approval of President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah,” the sources said.

On the eight day of demonstrations, thousands of people flooded the streets, angry with a political class they accuse of pushing the economy to the point of collapse, demanding the government's resignation.

On Thursday, Aoun met with the UN Secretary General's Representative in Lebanon, Jan Kubis, who briefed him on the position of the ISG on the latest developments.

Members of the Group visited Hariri on Tuesday and held a meeting at UN offices in Yarzeh upon the request of Kubis.

Ministerial sources said that Hariri told his visitors this week that he supports producing a political shock in the country.

“This is what the PM has been working on during his contacts with officials. Hariri deals with the popular movement as the product of a political crisis that can only be solved through politics, and not through security measures,” the sources added.

During a meeting held between Berri and a PSP delegation on Thursday, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said that Aoun would not accept a cabinet reshuffle if it includes the removal of Free Patriotic Movement leader, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, according to the same sources.

Aoun fears that scapegoating Bassil, who is his son-in-law, would benefit the Lebanese Forces, which would launch a political and media campaign against Hezbollah and would destabilize the support provided by the FPM to the Shiite party.

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