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Lebanon: Shiite Duo Insists to Retain Finance Ministry, Seeks Role In Executive Decisions

Lebanon: Shiite Duo Insists to Retain Finance Ministry, Seeks Role In Executive Decisions

Tuesday, 22 September, 2020 - 10:30
People walking in front of portraits of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, May 4, 2018 (Jamal Saidi/Reuters)

The Lebanese shiite duo’s insistence on retaining hold of the Finance Ministry seems to be threatening to thwart Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib’s mission to form a government of specialists and the adoption of rotation in the distribution of ministerial seats among the different sects.

The Shiite node could also topple the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron and dissipate the last opportunity to save Lebanon from its current economic and financial crisis.

The Shiite duo, represented by Amal Movement and Hezbollah, is insisting to obtain the Finance portfolio to preserve its right to have the “third signature” on the financial decrees, along with the signatures of the Maronite President and the Sunni Prime Minister.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat, member of Amal Movement’s Liberation and Development bloc, MP Ayoub Hmayed, stressed that preserving the Ministry of Finance to the Shiite sect “falls within its right to participate in the executive decision in the country.”

“Are the positions of the Maronite President, the Shiite Speaker and the Sunni Prime Minister enshrined in the constitution? Are the positions of Central Bank governor, army commander, and head of the Supreme Judicial Council, which are customarily assigned to the Maronite community stipulated in the constitution?” he asked.

“We demand equality between the Lebanese components, and for others to be convinced that we, the Shiites, have been rooted in this country for hundreds of years.”

Since the Taif Agreement was concluded in 1989, 18 governments have been formed in Lebanon, in which the finance portfolio has been entrusted to ministers from all sects: Eight ministers from the Sunni community, six Shiites, and four Christians.

According to the opponents of the Shiite duo, the latter’s insistence on obtaining the Finance ministry was to secure its “veto” on all executive decisions that do not meet its interests.

“This duo’s battle has two dimensions: Tactical and strategic,” political researcher Luqman Salim told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“In the tactical dimension, naming the Minister of Finance from Hezbollah and Amal Movement is tantamount to issuing a French declaration of innocence that would refute charges of corruption and financing terrorism,” he explained.

As for the strategic dimension, Salim - a Shiite opposed to the policies of Hezbollah and Amal - said: “This duo is not ready to make concessions to the French, and prefers to offer them to the Americans later.”

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