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Lebanon: Delay in Govt Formation Could Expand Diab’s Cabinet Powers

Lebanon: Delay in Govt Formation Could Expand Diab’s Cabinet Powers

Wednesday, 30 September, 2020 - 08:30
Resigned Prime Minister Hassan Diab meets with French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher, in Beirut, Lebanon (Dalati & Nohra)

The failure to form a new government under the French initiative has raised fears over expanding the powers of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s caretaker cabinet, despite the limited authority granted to it in the constitution.

French President Emmanuel Macron gave the Lebanese leaders 4 to 6 additional weeks to agree on a new government lineup, after Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Adib decided to abandon the mission.

While sources close to President Michel Aoun stressed that Diab’s government was acting according to the constitution, some political sides are concerned that the cabinet would be manipulated to serve the interests of the forces it currently represents, pending the outcome of the US presidential elections and the formation of a new government.

“This team can resort to any option to secure its interests,” Al-Mustaqbal MP Mohammed Hajjar told Asharq Al-Awsat, referring to the political parties represented in Diab’s government.

“This government has proven its failure at all economic and financial levels and with its relations with the international community and the Arab States. Bringing it back to the forefront means more harm to the country. This is what we fear.”

Noting the absence of any sign of imminent parliamentary consultations, Hajjar said: “Constitutionally, they are not entitled to expand the powers of this government, and if any attempts occur in this context, we will face them in the parliament.”

Dr. Paul Morcos, president of Justicia, said that after the adoption of the Taif Agreement, amendments were introduced to the constitution, specifically in Article 64, Paragraph 2.

The latter states that "the government, after its resignation, does not exercise its powers except in the narrow sense of running the country’s affairs. Therefore, the Council of Ministers has no right to meet or settle any issues that can be postponed pending the formation of the next government, except for urgent matters which cannot be delayed.”

He added: “As long as the current situation in Lebanon is exceptional on more than one level, the resigned government can deal with urgent matters. The narrow concept of running the state affairs expands the longer the period of government formation and with the worsening economic, financial and monetary conditions.”

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