France backs Lebanese politician’s idea to end cabinet lockdown

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BEIRUT / PARIS (Reuters) – France on Wednesday backed a proposal by Lebanon’s top Sunni Muslim politician to end a deadlock preventing the formation of a cabinet to get the country out of its worst crisis since the 1975 civil war -1990.

FILE PHOTO: Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks to media after a session of the United Nations-backed Tribunal in Lebanon that delivered judgment in the case of four men tried in absentia for the 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others, in Leidschendam, the Netherlands, on August 18, 2020. REUTERS / Piroschka Van De Wouw

Paris lobbied Lebanese politicians to quickly form a government, but the process came to a standstill in the face of a demand by the two main Lebanese Shiite parties to appoint several ministers, including the finance minister.

Former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri proposed in a statement Tuesday that Prime Minister designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system, appoint an “independent” Shia candidate to the finance portfolio.

It was not immediately clear whether the two main Shiite groups, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally the Amal movement, would support the idea. The pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar criticized the proposal.

A Shiite chosen by the head of Amal has been running the finance ministry for years. Adib’s objective was to shake up ministerial posts.

The French Foreign Ministry hailed Hariri’s “courageous statement”. “This declaration represents an opening and all parties must understand its importance so that a mission government can now be established,” he said.

President Michel Aoun, a Christian ally of Hezbollah, said on Monday that Lebanon would go “to hell” if it could not form a government to deal with a crisis that has crippled banks, brought down the Lebanese pound in collapse free and very much in poverty.

Lebanon’s problems were compounded by a devastating explosion on August 4 at the port of Beirut. The fires that followed in and around the region and Tuesday’s explosion in southern Lebanon shook the country again.

Hariri, traditionally aligned with the Sunni Arab Gulf states, said his idea was to appoint “a Shiite sect finance minister, who would be independent,” but said that did not mean he accepted the post. is always occupied by a Shiite. ‘ite.

France said on Tuesday that Lebanon was in danger of collapsing if politicians did not quickly form a cabinet, after missing a mid-September deadline agreed with Paris.

Report by Ellen Francis and Samia Nakhoul in Beirut and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Edmund Blair

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