BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri Sunday accused President Michel Aoun of obstructing the formation of a new government by insisting on veto power and rejecting his proposed Cabinet lineup of 18 nonpartisan specialists to implement essential reforms in line with the French initiative to rescue Lebanon.
Hariri also strongly refuted accusations by Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement headed by MP Gebran Bassil that his proposed Cabinet lineup he presented to the president on Dec. 9 amounted to infringing on the president’s constitutional powers in the Cabinet formation process and on the rights of Christians.
“The solution to [Lebanon’s crises] and to halt the collapse ... lies in the formation of a Cabinet of nonpartisan specialists capable of implementing the required reforms. Otherwise, no country is ready to help Lebanon and the collapse will continue,” Hariri said in a televised speech marking the 16th anniversary of the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed along with 21 others in a massive suicide truck bombing on Feb. 14, 2005.
Hariri’s speech came two days after holding an ice-breaking meeting with Aoun that failed to make any progress in the monthslong Cabinet formation deadlock or to even bring the two leaders closer to an agreement on the crisis.
On the contrary, the 20-minute meeting at Hariri’s request at Baabda Palace, clearly showed that the two leaders remained poles apart on the shape, the numbers of ministers and the distribution of key ministries despite mounting local and foreign calls for the rapid formation of the government.
Hariri said he had held 16 meetings with Aoun since his designation on Oct. 22 to form a new government. He added in their last meeting Friday, Aoun insisted on a share of 6 ministers in addition to an Armenian Tashnag minister, meaning a blocking third, or veto power.
“This is impossible,” Hariri said, emphasizing his staunch refusal to grant veto power to any party.