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President Aoun: Some parties seek to prevent govt. formation, foment chaos in Lebanon

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 President Michel Aoun

Lebanese President Michel Aoun says some political parties are seeking to delay the formation of a desperately-needed new government and push the Arab country toward chaos.

In the wake of a colossal explosion that destroyed the port in Beirut and swathes of the capital in early August last year, then-premier Hassan Diab stepped down, but has so far run the country by a caretaker government.

Since then, politicians have failed to agree on a government even as Lebanon has been paralyzed by a major financial crisis, which has for the past two years put the currency in a free fall, eliminated jobs, and made banks freeze accounts.

Sixty-five-year-old Najib Mikati, a tycoon and former premier, was recently designated to form a new government some two weeks after the former premier-designate, Saad Hariri, resigned as a result of a nine-month political deadlock.

Earlier this week, Aoun and Mikati expressed optimism that a cabinet could soon be formed to take the small Mediterranean country out of its persisting financial crisis, but the prospect of an imminent deal seems to have faded.

On Thursday, Aoun accused some unnamed parties of trying to prevent Mikati from moving forward in forming his new government, warning that such a move would ultimately bring chaos to Lebanon.

“Several forces are working to prevent the creation of a government and are determined to push the country towards chaos in order to fulfill their political aims,” the presidency said in a statement, citing Aoun.

According to the statement, the president is cooperating with Mikati, but other groups are increasing demands over positions in the future cabinet with the goal of forcing the premier-designate to step down, an outcome Aoun said he did not want.

Separately on Thursday, Mikati said in a statement, cited by broadcaster al-Jadeed, that he would continue his efforts to form a government, which is a necessary first step to begin steering Lebanon out of the current crisis that has compounded with crippling fuel shortages.

Mikati will need to agree with the president on the composition of any new government in a bid to fill the persisting political vacuum and address the ongoing socioeconomic crisis.

The currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value since fall 2019 and more than half of the population has been rendered jobless as businesses have shut down.

About half of the population is now living below the poverty line as prices are skyrocketing and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

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