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Lebanon: Macron Expects The Worst... Hariri Considers Stepping Down

Lebanon: Macron Expects The Worst... Hariri Considers Stepping Down

Saturday, 12 June, 2021 - 09:30
Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri walks after meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

A senior political source stressed the need for Lebanon’s officials to deal seriously with the concerns expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron over the failure of efforts to form a government.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Lebanese source said that Macron was striving to ensure continued support to the Lebanese as their country is heading towards political vacuum, although he had pledged to defend his efforts to form a government that would lead the required reforms.

In a news conference on Thursday, Macron said: “We are technically working with several partners in the international community so that at some point, (...) if the absence of government persisted, we could succeed in preserving a system under international constraint, which would then allow the funding of essential activities and support for the Lebanese people.”

According to the Lebanese politician, Macron’s announcement confirmed the failed negotiations to form the government, which returned to square one, without any breakthrough that can be relied upon to resume the consultations.

The French president insists on securing the minimum level of services for the Lebanese to fortify social security, which would reassure the military establishment and other security forces to enable them to maintain stability, according to the political source, who added that Paris has almost given up hope that the ruling authority would be able to save Lebanon from collapse.

Meanwhile, a source in the Shiite duo (Amal Movement and Hezbollah) told Asharq Al-Awsat that their recent meeting with the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil, did not achieve any progress in the government formation issue, as the latter insists on granting President Michel Aoun a share of eight portfolios in a government of 24 ministers.

Sources well-informed of the meeting that took place between Bassil and the representatives of Amal Movement and Hezbollah stressed that Aoun has entrusted the government negotiations to his “political heir”, which means that he was willingly giving up his powers.

“Hariri’s patience will not last indefinitely,” according to the sources, who noted that the premier-designate was waiting for final answers from Aoun’s team to make a decision about maintaining his efforts or abandoning his mission.

Pending the developments of the coming days, Hariri’s decision will be based on coordination with his allies and consultation with Speaker Nabih Berri, who, for his part, launched an initiative to expedite the formation of the government.

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