FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is seen at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, November 6, 2017. REUTERS
Lebanon’s Amal Movement will not join the government led by new prime minister Mustapha Adib, the media office of Nabih Berri -- parliament speaker and leader of the Shiite grouping -- announced on Sunday.
Amal Movement said, however, that it had informed Adib that it was willing to offer maximum cooperation to ensure Lebanon’s stability, enact reforms and save the economy.
On Twitter, the movement said its decision to avoid participating in the new government is not a result of problems with France -- French President Emmanuel Macron has visited Lebanon twice since a devastating explosion at Beirut’s port on 4 August left 200 dead and thousands homeless – but rather, “the problem is domestic,” read the movement’s statement, without giving further details.
Berri and Macron disagreed about who would lead the country’s finance ministry during a phone conversation on Saturday.
Kassem Hachem -- a key figure in Berri’s bloc in parliament – was reported as saying by Reuters that Berri had insisted that Lebanon’s new finance minister be Shiite, as has been the case previously due to Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Macron arranged a donors’ conference for Lebanon that collected 253 million Euros ($298 million) in humanitarian aid.
Official estimates, however, show that Lebanon needs from $10 to $15 billion to rebuild damaged areas.
Meanwhile, quick reforms are being requested by many internationally, including the EU and the US, in return for maintaining their financial support for Lebanon.
With Berri and Michel Aoun, the president, both allies of Hezbollah, the political influence of the Iran-backed, Shiite group over the state is apparently a key concern internationally.
Adib, a former diplomat and Sunni politician, was chosen last month by 90 Lebanese MPs in the 120-member parliament to serve as the new prime minister,
Those selecting him included MPs affiliated with former prime minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and with Hezbollah.
Adib has said he wants “to form a government in record time and to begin implementing reforms immediately, starting with an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”
Prior to Adib’s selection as the new head of government, Berri reportedly nominated Hariri, a Sunni, and ex-premier, to be the new prime minister.
But Hariri rejected the nomination. “I declare that I have not been nominated as the head of the new government, and I hope that people will stop circulating my name,” he said in a statement.
“The most important issue at this stage is maintaining the Lebanese people and Lebanon’s chances of rebuilding the capital, achieving reforms that have been delayed, and opening room for the involvement of friends in the international community to help in facing the crisis and investing in growth,” he added.
Hariri resigned as prime minister in October 2019 amid widespread protests against the country’s political leaders and elite, amid a deterioration in social and economic conditions.
He failed to head a new cabinet due to disagreements with Hezbollah, which then backed Hassan Diab to replace him.
Diab resigned on 10 August in the aftermath of the explosion.