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Lebanon: Fears over ‘Government of Confrontation’ that Includes Bassil

Lebanon: Fears over ‘Government of Confrontation’ that Includes Bassil

Monday, 4 November, 2019 - 08:30
A demonstrator waves a national flag as protesters gather at Martyrs' Square during ongoing anti-government protests in downtown Beirut, Lebanon November 3, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

Lebanese ministerial and parliamentary sources have hinted that President Michel Aoun has been procrastinating on calling for binding parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister over an insistence to give his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, who is the acting foreign minister, a government portfolio.


Bassil the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement that has been founded by Aoun. He has emerged as one of the most reviled figures in the anti-government protests that erupted on Oct. 17.


The FPM organized on Sunday a rally near the presidential palace in Baabda where Bassil addressed his supporters.


Hariri resigned last Tuesday, but Aoun has still not set a date for the binding consultations during which each parliamentary bloc informs the president on its choice for the premiership.


Presidential sources justified the delay by explaining that before naming the PM, Aoun wishes to consult several political parties to prevent obstacles from emerging during the cabinet formation process.


But several political parties, such as the Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Party, Amal Movement and Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement, said Aoun has not consulted them.


“Aoun, Bassil and the president’s ministerial bloc were only consulting Hezbollah,” the ministerial and parliamentary sources said, adding that Aoun had contacted several Sunni figures and proposed to them to take over from Hariri, but was later advised not to make any decision that would upset the Sunni sect.


“Sunday’s gathering near Baabda to show support for Aoun, aimed to send a message that Bassil is one of the main figures in Lebanon’s decision-making process,” the sources said.


They said Aoun’s team believes that keeping Bassil out of such balance would be seen as a victory for Hariri, LF leader Samir Geagea and PSP leader Walid Jumblatt.


The sources ruled out the possibility that Aoun signs a decree to form a cabinet which does not include his son-in-law.


However, they said, Hezbollah and Amal consider any possible appointment of Bassil as a minister would lead to the formation of a cabinet of confrontation with protesters, a matter rejected by Hezbollah.


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