Prominent Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt signals no movement on Hariri government formation

Prominent Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt signals no movement on Hariri government formation

2 min read
10 December, 2020
Lebanon's main Druze politician said there would be no 'white smoke' to signal that a new government formation is in the making.
Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government in October [Getty]
Prominent Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt signalled on Thursday that there would be no imminent movement on a draft cabinet line-up proposed by Lebanon's prime minister-designate.

Jumblatt, who is Lebanon's dominant Druze politician, said on  Twitter that there would be no "white smoke" to signal a now government had been formed, Reuters reported.

"It appears the white smoke over the government will not be released soon as a result of further testing to adopt the best vaccine to deal with the crisis," Jumblatt said, referring to the signal a new pope has been chosen.

Lebanon's prime minister-designate Saad Hariri was named in October to form a new government. He submitted his cabinet line up to President Michel Aoun on Wednesday.

Aoun office said the two have agreed on trying to bridge the gap on their proposals, Reuters reported. 

Lebanon's economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement.

The crisis was made worse by a nationwide wave of anti-government protests that paralysed the country late last year and the Covid-19 pandemic this year.

The 4 August Beirut port blast, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, brought the country to its knees and further fuelled public distrust.

Lebanon's government resigned after the explosion, but talks have stalled on the formation of a new cabinet.

This is deemed as essential to start reforms towards unlocking billions in desperately needed financial aid, as Lebanon hurtles towards what UN agencies have warned will be "a social catastrophe". 

French President Emmanuel Macron has been leading an international push for long-overdue reforms and collecting aid for the crisis-ridden country.

After his second visit, Macron pledged to "follow up" in December on progress made by Lebanese leaders towards enacting reforms. The visit is planned for 23 December, according to local media.

Read also: Is time running out for Macron's credibility in Lebanon?

As Macron's visit nears, Lebanese leaders - who have so far failed to form a new government after officials resigned in the aftermath of the explosion - are rushing to reach an internal agreement.

The formation of a reform-minded government was the first condition under the French plan which would unlock massive financial aid to rescue the country from its worst economic crisis in decades. But Macron has recently expressed disappointment with Lebanon's progress on its end of the bargain.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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