New snags hold up formation of Lebanon unity government

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Efforts to finalise a deal on a Lebanese national unity government hit new snags on Saturday, postponing its formation, a senior official closely involved in the efforts said. More than seven months since its last general election, Lebanon, heavily indebted and suffering from low economic growth, is in dire need of an administration to enact long-stalled reforms and put public debt on a sustainable footing. A deal on a new government led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri looked close earlier this week when a mediation effort made headway towards resolving the last big problem, which surrounded Sunni Muslim representation

Reuters December 23, 2018 00:05:23 IST
New snags hold up formation of Lebanon unity government

New snags hold up formation of Lebanon unity government

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Efforts to finalise a deal on a Lebanese national unity government hit new snags on Saturday, postponing its formation, a senior official closely involved in the efforts said.

More than seven months since its last general election, Lebanon, heavily indebted and suffering from low economic growth, is in dire need of an administration to enact long-stalled reforms and put public debt on a sustainable footing.

A deal on a new government led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri looked close earlier this week when a mediation effort made headway towards resolving the last big problem, which surrounded Sunni Muslim representation.

Hariri, Lebanon's leading Sunni politician, said on Friday he hoped to finalise the cabinet later that day. The cabinet seats must parcelled out among rival groups according to a finely balanced sectarian system.

"A number of obstacles have appeared in the last hours that led to delaying the government. The obstacles include the problem of Sunni representation and the problem of portfolio distribution," the official said.

The official did not give an estimate as to when the problems would be resolved.

More contacts are expected on Sunday.

The dispute over Sunni representation emerged as a group of Sunni MPs allied to the Shi'ite group Hezbollah said they must be allocated a seat in cabinet to reflect their election gains and Hariri resisted their demand.

Under the compromise solution, the six pro-Hezbollah Sunnis agreed to be represented in cabinet by another figure acceptable to them, with each of the six submitting a name from which President Michel Aoun would pick one.

But on Saturday, the pro-Hezbollah Sunni MPs withdrew their support for the Sunni candidate picked by Aoun - Jawad Adra - because he "did not consider himself an exclusive representative" of the six Sunni MPs.

Fresh disputes have also arisen over precisely which portfolios should go to which factions. The portfolios in question are seen as of secondary significance, the official said, with the most powerful ministries already allocated.

The May 6 national election, Lebanon’s first in nine years, produced a parliament tilted in favor of the heavily armed, Iran-backed Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah, which together with its political allies won more than 70 of the 128 seats.

Hariri, who enjoys Western backing, lost more than one third of his lawmakers, though he remained Lebanon’s biggest Sunni Muslim leader and as such was nominated again as prime minister.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.