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Lebanon: Berri-Bassil Understanding Rules out Government Reshuffle

Lebanon: Berri-Bassil Understanding Rules out Government Reshuffle

Monday, 6 July, 2020 - 10:30
Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Gebran Bassil during a meeting in Ain el-Tineh (NNA)
Beirut - Mohammed Choucair

Pro-government sources said they were awaiting the outcome of an understanding between Speaker Nabih Berri and the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), former minister Gebran Bassil, to save the Lebanese government and end the stalling that has so far prevented the implementation of reforms.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the sources revealed that Bassil had presented some ideas that include replacing some ministers, under the pretext of low productivity.

Sources in the opposition, on the other hand, noted that Berri preferred the adoption of a definite program to save the government, calling for the immediate launch of the administrative and financial reforms that the cabinet pledged to undertake in its ministerial statement and addressing the electricity crisis through durable solutions.

They said that Berri underlined the need to reactivate the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to support the financial recovery plan.

According to the sources, the government reshuffle was now off the table for two main reasons: first, Hezbollah’s active efforts to prevent any changes to the cabinet, despite the movement’s awareness that the current ministerial lineup is unable to increase its efficiency; and second, the opposition forces’ unwillingness to engage in an “adventure” that could lead to a settlement similar to the one that led to the election of Michel Aoun as president.

In this context, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that opposition parties have agreed to reject any attempt to form a new government.

They added that former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has ruled out a return as head of government, as he was now working to regain the confidence of his supporters, who were “deceived” by the settlement that he struck with Aoun.

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