Lebanon’s PM designate resigns amid impasse with Hezbollah, Amal

Nellie Chapman
September 27, 2020

The former government resigned after a deadly explosion at a Beirut port on August 4, which claimed the lives of almost 200 people, including an Australian toddler, Isaac Oehlers.

Mr Adib told reporters that he was stepping down because forming a non-partisan government to unlock desperately needed foreign aid is "bound to fail". "France will not abandon Lebanon", said the official.

The Iranian proxy terror group Hezbollah, and its ally, Amal, continuously demanded that Adib appoint a Shiite ministers to the cabinet, and specifically would not give up the finance portfolio.

Their insistence emerged after the USA administration slapped sanctions on two senior politicians close to the terror group Hezbollah, including the ex-finance minister and top Amal official, Ali Hassan Khalil.

French President Emmanuel Macron will hold a news conference on Sunday on the political situation in Lebanon, the French presidency said.

Even before last month's blast, Lebanon was already mired in its worst economic crunch since the 1975-1990 civil war, as it grappled with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Lebanon is in desperate need of financial assistance but France and other global powers have refused to provide aid before serious reforms are made.

Macron said he had secured commitments from all of Lebanon's political parties to help Adib form a new cabinet within a fortnight, but that deadline came and went.

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Lebanon financial reserves are quickly drying up as it faces one of the worst financial crises in decades.

"I stress that this initiative must continue", he said after meeting President Michel Aoun.

"There was a chance, there was a lot of pressure to form a government and it didn't happen", he said, adding there was a "bigger problem" of geopolitical tensions, especially between the United States and Iran. Talks with the International Monetary Fund on a bailout package have stalled. "These people need to realize that this is bigger than Lebanon", a French diplomatic source after Adib's resignation.

"It's a setback, but we're not giving up".

Amal leader and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said his group still backed the French plan, while Suleiman Frangieh - head of a Christian group allied to Hezbollah - called the initiative a "golden opportunity that Lebanon must not lose".

Adib said he failed to win the support of all political forces.

The street value of the Lebanese pound, which has plunged from an official peg of 1,500 to the dollar since the economic crisis erupted past year, weakened further after the news.

"We say to those who applaud the collapse of Macron's initiative today, that you will bite your fingers in regret", said leading Sunni Muslim politician and former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, following the announcement.

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