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Lebanese President Accused of Violating Constitution to Expand Caretaker Cabinet’s Role

Lebanese President Accused of Violating Constitution to Expand Caretaker Cabinet’s Role

Saturday, 5 December, 2020 - 07:00
President Michel Aoun chairs the meeting of the Higher Defense Council at Baabda Palace on Thursday. Dalati and Nohra photo

A former Lebanese prime minister has criticized President Michel Aoun who has called for a greater role for the caretaker cabinet in dealing with the country’s economic situation.

The ex-PM, who refused to be identified, told Asharq Al-Awsat in remarks published Saturday that Aoun is seeking to change the interpretation of the constitution or the Taef Accord to try to circumvent international pressure to swiftly form a new government.

Aoun’s call was made during an extraordinary meeting of the Higher Defense Council that he chaired at Baabda Palace on Thursday.

“The current situation in the country is an extraordinary situation that requires an extraordinary follow-up and taking decisions to deal with this delicate situation,” he said.

The cabinet “is serving in a caretaker capacity. But the current circumstances require some expansion of the caretaker work in order to meet the needs of the country and citizens until a new government is formed,” he added.

But the former prime minister accused Aoun of acting as the head of a revolutionary council and rejecting to abide by the constitution.

In his proposal to expand the role of the caretaker cabinet, the president is planning to transfer the authorities of the executive authority to the Higher Defense Council, he said.

Following Aoun’s statement, Lebanon’s former prime ministers have engaged in consultations with PM-designate Saad Hariri for an appropriate response, he added.

A source in the opposition also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun is setting the stage for a coup on the Taef Accord.

Aoun’s call on the caretaker cabinet of Hassan Diab to act to tackle the country’s problems came a day after an international conference to drum up humanitarian aid to Lebanon urged rival parties to act to quickly form a new credible government tasked with enacting reforms.

But Hariri has so far been unable to form the cabinet of experts to implement reforms, a major condition by the international community to release billions of dollars in promised international assistance to Lebanon.

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