Photo: NNA

Aoun and Hariri will meet again on Monday to find “answers” for deadlock

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will meet on Monday to find the “answers to form a government as quickly as possible,” according to Hariri.

The two met today at the presidential palace for the 17th time in five months to work out their conflicts regarding the seat distribution of key ministries in the proposed 18-member Cabinet, meant to ease Lebanon out of its economic collapse.

“Today’s meeting was to ease the conflict and calm things down, and I will remain frank,” said Hariri after the discussion, which he pinpointed as a chance to work with the international community and donors to restore confidence in the country. “Now, there is an opportunity that we must seize.”

The Lebanese pound lost more than 90 percent of its value since late 2019, plunging into a record LBP 15,000 to the US dollar on the parallel market earlier this week.

The pace of the economic collapse significantly quickened in the past two weeks, with the value of the local currency quickly deteriorating, protests re-emerging, and shops closing their doors in response to inflation and worsening living standards.

Passing blame

Last night, Aoun and Hariri passed blame regarding the five-month government formation deadlock.

Aoun gave a brief televised speech during which he called on Hariri to visit the presidential palace and form a new government or step down if he is unable to.

“My call is determined and truthful to the prime minister-designate to choose immediately one of the two choices, as silence is not an option after today,” Aoun said, who is pushing for enough seats for his Free Patriotic Movement party to hold veto power in the new government.

“If he is unable to form and lead a national salvation government to tackle the dangerous situation that the country and its people are going through, he should make way for anyone who is capable of forming a government,” said Aoun.

Hariri tweeted in response, saying he was “surprised, as were all Lebanese, by His Excellency the president inviting me to the presidential palace through a televised address.”

The PM-designate added that he had visited the presidential palace 16 times in the past 7 months and would visit a 17th time when Aoun’s “schedule permits” to discuss the government formation.

“Weeks after introducing an integrated lineup for a specialist, non-sectarian government that is capable of implementing the necessary reforms to stop the collapse and begin building what the Beirut port explosion destroyed, I am waiting for a phone call from the president to discuss the proposed lineup for the new government,” said Hariri.

“These weeks have added to the suffering of the Lebanese, which had started months before I was selected by MPs to form a government.”

He also added that Aoun would “shorten the suffering of the Lebanese by allowing for an early presidential vote.”