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Lebanon parliament speaker Berri says his party won’t participate in next government

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (Photo by AP)

The office of Lebanese Parliament Speaker has voiced Nabih Berri's opposition to the manner Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is forming a new cabinet, saying his Amal Movement will not participate in the next administration.

“We informed the prime minister-designate ... that we do not have the desire to participate in the next government,” Berri's office said in a statement on Sunday, citing a concern about a lack of consultation and what he called resorting to “foreign leverage” in forming the cabinet. 

According to the statement, the senior legislator, however, stressed that his party would cooperate with the next Lebanese government for the sake of the country’s stability and to help end a crippling economic crisis that was aggravated by a last month enormous explosion at Beirut's port.

The statement also addressed a phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, during which he had pressed the senior Lebanese politician to remove an obstacle over the finance ministry post, a demand that was turned down by Berri.

“The problem is not with the French, but it is internal and from inside,” the statement said.

Bassil says his Free Patriotic Movement will not join new cabinet 

Additionally, the president of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, also announced on Sunday that his party would not be part of the next cabinet, but would support it.

“We don’t have a desire to participate in the new government, we don’t want to participate in it,” Bassil said at a press conference.

He argued that “a single camp” is seeking to form the new Lebanese government “without consultations” with other political parties.

“Why is there insistence on the formation of a government by a single camp, without consultations with anyone, under the slogan of expert, nonpartisan [ministers]?” the former foreign minister asked, adding, “They’re saying, ‘Either the government gets formed the way we want, or else the [French] initiative would fail and the country would collapse.’”

“How can characteristics and names be specified by a single camp in the country that does not even have the parliamentary majority? Is this how a parliamentary system works in other countries?” President Michel Aoun's son-in-law questioned.

Adib faces a 15-day deadline to form a new cabinet. Lebanese politicians promised Macron on September 1 during his visit that they would form a cabinet of technocrats without party loyalties in about two weeks.

The prime minister-designate was expected to present his plan for a cabinet to President Aoun on Monday.

Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis in decades. The Lebanese pound has continued to plummet against the US dollar, losing more than 80 percent of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up.

The previous prime minister, Hassan Diab, submitted the resignation of his government on August 10 under the brunt of mounting public outrage over the Beirut explosion.

International donors say aid to Lebanon should come with a credible program to move on critical economic reforms and tackle corruption.

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