Cabinet Deadlock: Lebanese Parties Fight Over Ministerial Portfolios

Published September 16th, 2020 - 11:30 GMT
Leading Sunni political figure Saad Hariri was named as Lebanon's new prime minister. (AFP/File)
Leading Sunni political figure Saad Hariri was named as Lebanon's new prime minister. (AFP/File)

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Wednesday said the Finance Ministry was not anyone’s exclusive right, taking aim at the country’s main Shiite parties which insist on retaining the ministry.

“The Finance Ministry and other ministerial portfolios are not the exclusive right of any sect,” Hariri said in a tweet.

He added that the refusal to rotate key ministries was sabotaging the last chance to save Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

The Cabinet formation process hit an impasse after the Amal Movement and Hezbollah insisted that the Finance Ministry be headed by a Shiite, either appointed or approved by them.

Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib was seeking to form a small government with the sovereign ministries, including the Finance Ministry, rotated among leading parties.

Parliament Speaker and head of the Amal Movement Nabih Berri claimed over the weekend that it was the “norm” for the finance minister to be from the Shiite sect, even though multiple Sunnis and Maronites have held the position in the past, with a Shiite holding the position since 2014.

Berri's insistence that the Finance Ministry be reserved for a Shiite only intensified after the US imposed sanctions on his top aide and former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil.

His claim was met by criticism, with Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil Sunday also rejecting it, saying he did not acknowledge such a norm.

The formation of a new government is a key part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to help save Lebanon from its multiple crises and set a path of reforms.

Lebanese politicians had promised Macron during his second visit to Beirut on Sept. 2 that a new government would be formed within 15 days. However, that deadline passed with the formation process gridlocked.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright © 2020, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

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