Lebanese prime minister resigns after failing to form government

The country's president has once again rejected a new cabinet proposal
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AFP PHOTO/HO/DALATI Y NOHRA  -   Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri

After nine months of political deadlock and an inability to form a new government in Lebanon, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has announced his resignation. Hariri yesterday presented a new government proposal to Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Aoun and Hariri held a brief meeting lasting barely half an hour, after which Hariri said that "the moment of truth has come".

"It is obvious that we will not be able to reach an understanding, the president and I " the Sunni leader said. Speaking to the media, Hariri confessed to journalists that President Aoun had not accepted his latest cabinet proposal. According to Lebanese media L'Orient-Le Jour, the Sunni leader reportedly arrived at the presidential palace to meet again with the head of state to discuss the new government proposal, which included 24 ministers.

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PHOTO/DALATI & HOHRA via REUTERS - Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon

"During our consultations, the president asked for changes that I consider fundamental in the version of the government," Hariri told reporters after his meeting with Aoun. "We also discussed issues of trust and the appointment of Christian ministers." "But it is obvious that Aoun's position has not changed and that we will not be able to get along," he said. "I asked the president that I needed more time to think about the roadmap. He told me that we will not be able to reach an understanding and that is why I am announcing my resignation. God help Lebanon," Hariri concluded.

The differences between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri have been constant since the latter accepted the mission last October to form a government. Aoun, together with the Free Patriotic Movement, demanded that Christian ministers be appointed to the government and that their number be raised to 20, allowing for a one-third blockade in favour of the president. For his part, Hariri has insisted on forming a government of specialists based on the French initiative and the tacit support of some forces in the country, such as the Amal Movement.

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PHOTO/DALATI&NOHRA - Michel Aoun, President of Lebanon

Aoun, whose political party controls the largest parliamentary bloc in the country, has clashed with Hariri over the formation of the cabinet, imposing his conditions. Hariri has disagreed with Aoun over the number of ministers and the distribution of the new government. For his part, the Lebanese president has called Hariri's proposal unrepresentative of Christians and dismissive of the country's power-sharing system, which is based on confessional rates.

Ultimately, the quarrels between the two leaders have gone beyond the national interest and led to the resignation of the prime minister, who has been unable to complete the task of forming a government. Lebanon has been without a government for eleven months, since caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned following the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.

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AP/BILAL HUSSEIN - Hundreds of Lebanese protesters gathered in downtown Beirut

The political deadlock in Lebanon has exacerbated the country's economic crisis, which the World Bank has called one of the worst crises of the 21st century. The establishment of a cabinet is crucial to implement reforms, a sine qua non for international aid that could provide a source of relief from a deep crisis marked by hyperinflation, impoverishment of half the population and shortages of basic necessities.