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Lebanon: Threats of Escalation If Govt not Formed Within 48 Hours

Lebanon: Threats of Escalation If Govt not Formed Within 48 Hours

Wednesday, 15 January, 2020 - 11:00
Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister in the resigned government Gebran Bassil during their meeting in Ain el-Tineh (NNA)

The process of forming a new government has entered a critical stage with a request for the birth of the cabinet within 48 hours; otherwise, the country could face a major political and popular escalation.

The unspecified time limit, which was given to Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab by the political forces that entrusted him with the formation of the government, coincided with a 48-hour-deadline that the popular movement announced in front of Diab’s house on Tuesday.

Sources close to the designated premier, however, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his government lineup was ready, “based on the criteria he had set upon his designation”. But Diab said that obstacles were hindering the announcement of the new government.

Reports emerged on Tuesday saying that Diab requested a 48-hour-deadline to announce his cabinet – information strongly rejected by his sources.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri spoke about a positive atmosphere following a meeting with the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Foreign Minister in the resigned government Gebran Bassil on Tuesday.

Berri’s visitors quoted him as saying: “A window of hope was opened; we hope that it would turn into a door.”

Following a meeting of the FPM’s Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc on Tuesday, Bassil said: “We never had a special [portfolio] request, except that of forming a government of salvation. And in light of the developments that took place today, we are further motivated to assume our responsibility, now more than ever.”

“By virtue of our parliamentary responsibilities, we either grant confidence or withhold it, and the criterion is the [government’s] ability to rescue [the country]. Neither did we previously choose [a candidate], nor will we name one today,” he emphasized.

“Words about quotas and blocking third are groundless," the minister stressed, adding that reforms could not be achieved with the same economic and financial policy adopted over the past 30 years.

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