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Lebanese Officials: Aoun’s Attempt to Bring Bassil Back to Cabinet Met with Rejection

Lebanese Officials: Aoun’s Attempt to Bring Bassil Back to Cabinet Met with Rejection

Thursday, 13 August, 2020 - 08:45
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun wearing a face mask, heads a council of ministers meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon April 30, 2020. Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has been seeking to promote the formation of a government of political figures that would pave the way for a comeback for his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, who heads the Free Patriotic Movement, senior officials said.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the officials, who were not identified, expressed surprise at Aoun’s attempt to bring Bassil back to the cabinet, after the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab following the deadly bombing that rocked Beirut on August 4.

Not only opposition figures rejected Aoun’s attempts, but also main parties within the so-called “March 8 alliance”, which favored the formation of a “national unity government that would exclude Bassil.”

The same officials pointed out that Bassil has tried in vain to benefit from Hezbollah’s support and to promote Aoun’s proposal during his meeting on Monday with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hussein Khalil, the political aide to the Hezbollah chief.

Aoun is no longer in a position that allows him to impose his own conditions, the officials said, adding that Bassil’s nomination of former Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations, Nawaf Salam, to head the government, was nothing but a maneuver aimed at extorting the leader of al-Mustaqbal Movement, former Premier Saad Hariri, who was the first to nominate Salam to head the previous cabinet and was met at the time with rejection from the FPM chief and Hezbollah.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned that the schedule, which was set for Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during his brief visit to Beirut, did not include a meeting with Bassil, although the latter had sought hard to get his share of the talks.

The officials stressed that there was no reason for Bassil to meet with Shoukry as long as the Egyptian FM visited Aoun.

According to the officials, the Egyptian foreign minister urged Lebanese politicians to benefit from Arab and international support, but was quoted as saying that there would only be humanitarian aid.

He stressed that economic and financial support for Lebanon required major measures by Lebanese officials, mainly the implementation of reforms.

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