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Lebanon: Govt Stuck Between Crisis, Bassil’s Call for 'Clear Standards'

Lebanon: Govt Stuck Between Crisis, Bassil’s Call for 'Clear Standards'

Tuesday, 1 December, 2020 - 10:15
Speaker Nabih Berri meets with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea (NNA)

The process of forming a new government in Lebanon has not seen any improvement that would revive the talks between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.

Sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hariri’s Future Movement was maintaining silence over the file, adding: “There has been no breakthrough in the stalemate that prevailed for weeks, that is, since [former Minister Gebran] Bassil hardened his stance after the imposition of US sanctions on him.”

The sources underlined that the French initiative, launched by President Emmanuel Macron, has reached an impasse.

Meanwhile, Baabda has denied any role of Bassil - the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement and Aoun’s son-in-law - in forming the new government, stressing that the formation process would take place upon an agreement solely between the president and the designated premier.

In turn, Bassil’s media office confirmed that the head of the FPM had not set a condition, nor did he specify a demand or impose an equation on the formation process.

“Instead, the movement has called for the need to define the unified principles and standards adopted by the both President of the Republic and the Prime Minister-designate in order for the movement to express its stance over them,” the office said in a statement.

In light of the stalemate in the government formation process, US Ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea visited Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday upon her request. Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ambassador “raised the government deadlock and wanted to hear Berri’s stance on the file.”

“Berri still supports Prime Minister-designate Hariri and calls for the quick the formation of the cabinet,” the sources said, adding that he discussed with Shea the recent US sanctions imposed by Washington on Lebanese political figures, which he said have delayed the birth of the government.

Meanwhile, France is hosting a videoconference on Wednesday with international partners to discuss ways to provide humanitarian aid to Lebanon. The conference, which is organized in cooperation with the United Nations, seeks to attract the highest possible representation, with the aim of encouraging the provision of necessary aid to the crisis-stricken country.

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