Lebanon remains in limbo, several days after the deadline for forming a new government has expired. Despite France’s efforts, the political blockade over the distribution of the financial portfolio, which the Shiite tandem consists of Hezbollah and the Amal movement, refuses to give up.
Negotiations to form a new government continue in Lebanon despite the end of the 15-day period promised by the various political camps and announced by French President Emmanuel Macron on September 1 during his visit to Beirut.
“I am fully aware that we do not have the luxury of the times,” Prime Minister MoustaphaAdib admitted on Thursday, September 17, during a press conference, while ongoing measures still stumble across the distribution of the financial portfolio.
“We have agreed to allow more time for consultation” with a view to forming a government, he said after an interview with President Michel Aoun. Several Lebanese sources indicated that the new deadline for setting up a team of ministers has been set for Sunday, September 20, reports Charbel Abboud, correspondent for France 24 in Beirut.
The prime minister, who said he could withdraw in the event of failure, said he hoped to count on “cooperation between all parties”. the French-language daily newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour“the French crisis unit responsible for the Lebanese file would have patiently pushed MoustaphaAdib, insofar as its withdrawal at this stage would be a real step into the unknown”.
Paris is trying to remove the obstacle around the Ministry of Finance
France, which on Wednesday called on all parties to take responsibility and “finally act in Lebanon’s sole interest”, is stepping up talks to unblock the issue of allocating the Ministry of Finance’s.
The blockade around this portfolio is due to the demand from the Shiite spirit made up of Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal Party, to see it attributed to a “Shiite personality”, which has been the case since 2014.
CharbelAbboud reports that an interview on this issue took place during the week between the French ambassador, Bruno Foucher, and the head of Hezbollah’s external relations, Ammar Moussaoui. Several Lebanese media reported that Bernard Emie, former French ambassador to Beirut and current director of the DGSE, also attended the meeting via video conference.
A source close to the Shiite party even stated at L’Orient-Le Jour that at the end of the meeting “the French had accepted the principle of allocating money to the Shiite community”.
“This is an essential condition in the eyes of the Shiite tandem, because in Lebanon the decrees are generally signed by the President of the Republic who is Maronite, by the Prime Minister who comes from the Unnite community and by the Minister of Finance,” CharbelAbboud explains. Neither Hezbollah nor the Amal movement want to give up Shia forgeries.
Until now, MoustaphaAdib has always said that it is determined to question the distribution of ministerial posts on a fixed value basis in order to rotate societies and portfolios.
An opinion that seems to be shared by the tenors of the Sunni political scene. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said, Wednesday via his Twitter account, that the Ministry of Finance was not “individual right” for a specific society and that the refusal to rotate portfolios according to societies aims at “defeating the last possible chance to save Lebanon and Lebanese”.
Cedar’s land in the dead end
The deadlock is therefore total. In a statement released on Thursday, the parliamentary group Hezbollah reaffirmed the demands of the Shiite tandem while humiliating those “who form the government in the shadows”, in an implicit reference to the Sunni camp. “We refuse to appoint our ministers ours. And we refuse to oppose that the component we represent does not have the Ministry of Finance,” said Hassan Nasrallah’s party.
France’s room for maneuver, heavily invested in Lebanon since the double explosion on August 4 in the port of Beirut, seems to be reaching its limits in the face of a political system based on confessionalism and political merchandising.
A certain exercise of power, which was hated by a large part of the population and which in the autumn provoked a protest movement against the entire political class, was considered incompetent and corrupt.
Still, it is an emergency, as international aid of several billion dollars was promised in Lebanon in 2018, even before the double explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut and several districts in the capital. But these funds remain blocked pending the structural and credible reforms of an entire government.