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Sat, 07 Dec 2019 10:03 GMT

Lebanese Politicians Signal Progress in Government Talks

Politics

7Dnews London

Tue, 03 Dec 2019 21:44 GMT

Lebanon still remains without a new government amid ongoing protests demanding an end to the country's economic and political problems.

However, Lebanese politicians signalled progress on Tuesday, December 3rd towards agreeing on a new government to tackle the country's worst economic crisis in decades, but a deal had yet to be made.

Since Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned in late October under pressure from huge protests against the ruling elite, talks between the main feuding parties have been deadlocked.

A previous deal had appeared to be finalised, but it unravelled last month after former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi withdrew as a candidate for the premiership.

The next government will have to enact urgent reforms and attract foreign support to stave off an even worse collapse after years of bad governance, corruption, and waste.

Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Hariri said Tuesday he supports the nomination of prominent contractor Samir al-Khatib to become the country’s next premier, adding that “there are still some details and God willing something good” will happen.

Hariri pointed out that “everyone is trying to pass through this difficult period,” saying that he would not take part in the new government. However, the resigned prime minister is still serving in a caretaker capacity.

Khatib heads one of Lebanon’s largest engineering and contracting companies and did not hold any political roles in the past.

In a similar vein, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said there was an agreement on forming a government led by "a trusted figure Hariri fully backs" and with a majority of "competent" specialists from each side.

"We have hope that matters have reached close to a happy ending," Bassil, President Michel Aoun's son-in-law, said at a news conference.

Earlier, Aoun was quoted as saying the coming days would bring "positive developments."

According to political sources, negotiations were moving quickly towards creating a cabinet with Khatib as prime minister.

The apparent breakthrough comes as Lebanon is passing through its worst economic and financial crisis in decades with one of the highest debt ratios in the world, high unemployment, and an expected contraction in the economy in 2020.


Middle East