France yesterday backed a proposal by former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri that could help form the country’s new cabinet amid the worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
“This declaration represents an opening and all parties must understand its importance so that a mission government can now be established,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Hariri – a prominent Sunni politician – offered a way out of the political impasse by proposing that an “independent” Shia candidate be appointed finance minister. But he stressed that this decision would not mean that the post “should always be occupied by a Shiite leader”. It comes as the biggest Shiite blocs, Hezbollah and Amal, have insisted they hold the finance ministry in any new government.
Paris lobbied politicians for the swift formation of a government that “will craft reforms to fight corruption and help attract international aid to fix an economy drowned in debt.” The country’s problems were compounded by a devastating explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4. The fires that followed in and around the region and an explosion Tuesday in southern Lebanon shook the country again.
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system, had sought to shake up ministerial positions with a new cabinet of specialists.
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