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Hariri proposes 24-member cabinet in what is seen as a last-ditch effort to break the government formation deadlock

Hariri proposes 24-member cabinet in what is seen as a last-ditch effort to break the government formation deadlock

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri arrives to meet with President Michel Aoun at the Presidential Palace in Baabda (Credit: Dalati Nohra)

BEIRUT — Prime Minister–designate Saad Hariri announced that he presented a cabinet lineup to President Michel Aoun and that Aoun is expected to decide whether to accept or reject it tomorrow.

“I presented to President Aoun a government of 24 specialist ministers … and I hope for an answer from Aoun tomorrow," Hariri said from Baabda Palace after the meeting with Aoun.

Hariri’s announcement came after the 19th meeting between him and the president in nine months, as the two have been unable to agree on a cabinet of independent specialists. Hariri has accused the president of jockeying to obtain enough ministers to secure veto power for him and his allies. The president denies this.

Meanwhile, the country has languished without a government empowered to help pull the country out of an economic crisis that the World Bank has described as likely one of the worst in more than a century.

The meeting was held amid recent rumors that Hariri, a three-time former premier, would step down if the stalemate with the president persists. It has been considered the Premier-designate’s last ditch effort to form a government and comes following a trip to Egypt, where Hariri met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who reportedly reaffirmed his country’s “full support for Hariri's political path.”

Should Hariri resign, he would become the second prime minister-designate to pull out of government formation negotiations in the 11 months since the last cabinet resigned in the wake of the Beirut port explosion.

In September, Mustapha Adib, a Lebanese diplomat, stepped down less than a month after being appointed prime minister-designate, when his reported attempts to form a cabinet of independent specialists failed over a disagreement about who would get to control the Finance Ministry.

Then, in October — almost a year to the day since Hariri had stepped down as anti-government protests swept the country — Hariri was tasked with forming a government. He set about pushing for an 18-member cabinet made up of independent experts in line with an initiative spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron to help steer Lebanon out of the economic collapse.

Both the prime minister-designate and the president must agree on the makeup and size of the future cabinet.


BEIRUT — Prime Minister–designate Saad Hariri announced that he presented a cabinet lineup to President Michel Aoun and that Aoun is expected to decide whether to accept or reject it tomorrow.“I presented to President Aoun a government of 24 specialist ministers … and I hope for an answer from Aoun tomorrow," Hariri said from Baabda Palace after the meeting with Aoun. Hariri’s...