Efforts to form a new Lebanese government and to set a date for parliamentary consultations required to name a new prime minister returned to square one on Monday after political leaders disagreed on the form of the new cabinet.
Asharq Al-Awsat learned that reigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri is leaning towards rejecting his appointment to head the next cabinet over disputes over its form.
His stance was made after the Shiite political parties of Hezbollah and the Amal refused Hariri’s demand to form a technocrat government, according to sources.
On Monday, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said that his party supports the formation of a “sovereign government,” while Amal movement leader and parliament Speaker Nabih Berri spoke about the need to form a “uniting government.”
Sources said that Hariri had suggested the name of former Lebanese ambassador to the UN, Nawwaf Salam to head the country’s next cabinet.
However, his proposal was rejected by President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah.
Sources close to the president told Asharq Al-Awsat that figures close to Aoun have already started to search for a new Sunni figure who could form the new government.
The sources said Hariri's successor should be close to the president’s camp.
They explained that Hariri’s decision to reject a political government is mainly related to the position of his allies, the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party, both of which refuse to be part of the next cabinet.
This would leave Hariri alone in the government, which would weaken his position against his rivals in the cabinet, they added.
A statement by Hariri’s Mustaqbal Movement hailed his tireless efforts in preparing for a transitional phase in which a government of experts would assume the responsibility of restoring confidence and addressing socio-economic and daily living conditions to meet the demands of popular protests.
The sweeping anti-government protests that have raged in Lebanon since October 17 forced Hariri to resign two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Nasrallah accused the US of hampering Lebanon’s economy.
He said sanctions imposed on Lebanese banks that support his party were aimed at causing strife among the Lebanese people.
He avoided addressing the negotiations on the formation of the government and sufficed by saying that meetings were ongoing. He called for the establishment of a “sovereign” cabinet.