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France Supports Hariri’s Initiative to End Lebanon Cabinet Deadlock

France Supports Hariri’s Initiative to End Lebanon Cabinet Deadlock

Wednesday, 23 September, 2020 - 08:00
FILE PHOTO: A view shows a street hosting banks and financial institutions, known as Banks Street, in Beirut Central District, Lebanon August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

France backed on Wednesday a proposal made by Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to end a stalemate preventing the formation of the new cabinet.

Paris has been pressing Lebanese politicians to form a government quickly but the process hit a logjam over a demand by Lebanon's two main Shiite parties – Hezbollah and Amal movement - that they name several ministers, including the finance minister.

Hariri, a Sunni, proposed in a statement on Tuesday that Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib name an "independent" Shiite candidate to the finance portfolio.

A Shiite picked by Amal chief Nabih Berri, who is also the parliament speaker, has run the finance ministry for years.

Adib aimed to shake up ministerial posts.

The French Foreign Ministry welcomed the "courageous declaration" by Hariri. It said: "This declaration represents an opening and all parties should understand its importance so that a government of mission can now be established."

President Michel Aoun said on Monday Lebanon was going "to hell" if it could not form a government to tackle a crisis that has paralyzed the banks, sent Lebanon's pound into freefall and plunged many into poverty.

The country's problems were compounded by a devastating explosion on Aug. 4 at Beirut port.

Hariri said his idea was to name "a finance minister from the Shiite sect, who would be independent" but said this did not mean he accepted that the post should always be held by a Shiite.

France had said on Tuesday Lebanon risked collapse if politicians did not form a cabinet quickly, after they missed a mid-September deadline agreed with Paris.

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