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Lebanon: Sunni Majority’s Abstention to Nominate Diab Renews Talks on National Pact

Lebanon: Sunni Majority’s Abstention to Nominate Diab Renews Talks on National Pact

Friday, 20 December, 2019 - 10:00
Hassan Diab arrives to talk to the media after being named Lebanon's new prime minister, at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Discussions that preceded Thursday’s binding parliamentary consultations to name a new head of government showed that the preparation for the nomination of former minister Hassan Diab began four days before.

Many saw in his appointment a disruption of the balance of sects and a breach to the country’s National Pact, which stipulates that the presidency should be occupied by the strongest figure within the Maronite community so is the case for the speakership among the Shiites and the premiership among the Sunnis.

Meanwhile, observers said that resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri was the only one to respond to the street protests. They noted in this regard that since his resignation, Hariri sought to protect the demonstrators by maintaining communication with the Lebanese Army and Security Forces and insisted on forming a technocrat cabinet to face economic and financial challenges and meet the protesters’ demands.

Hariri did not object to the names that were put forward to head the government, and kept repeating, from the first day of resignation: “Not me but someone else.”

He maintained his position and rejected all proposals to form a techno-political government, despite all facilitations provided to him, including the appointment of only four to six “political” ministers who will not hold key ministerial portfolios.

But when Hariri found that the horizon was blocked, he announced his withdrawal from the race out of his conviction that only a government of specialists could prevent near collapse.

The surprising move came from caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who declared last week that his “Strong Lebanon” bloc would not participate in a techno-political government, nor would it support a technocrat cabinet headed by Hariri.

Today, in the wake of Diab’s nomination, observers ask about the fate of the National Pact, as the new government will not be presided by the strongest figure within the Sunni community.

“The prime minister’s post is not a technical position for a technocrat figure to occupy,” they noted.

Accordingly, the observers noted that the appointment of a prime minister who does not enjoy wide Sunni representation will disrupt the balance of powers and will deprive the new government of the factors of continuity and stability.

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