BEIRUT: Political appeals and meetings have intensified in Lebanon over the past 48 hours in what has been described as possibly “the last attempt” to salvage the process of forming a new government as the Bank Global said the authorities’ political response to the challenges was “highly inadequate. “
Efforts to assemble a cabinet preceded the arrival Thursday of a World Bank delegation to meet with officials.
“The economic and financial crisis should be among the top 10, if not the top three, of the most serious crises in the world since the middle of the 19th century,” the bank warned. He said that, since late 2019, Lebanon has faced aggravated challenges, including its biggest peacetime economic and financial crisis, the spread of the coronavirus and the massive explosion in the port of Beirut last year.
“The response of the Lebanese authorities to the challenges in terms of public policies has been very insufficient,” noted the World Bank.
There was some optimism on Tuesday, when meetings were held mediated by Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri which resulted in the approval of a government of 24 ministers instead of 18.
But the remaining stumbling block is linked to the insistence of President Michel Aoun and his political party to appoint the two Christian ministers of the interior and of justice.
This position has been described by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s team as “an attempt to secure the blocking third party by appointing eight ministers and two others”.
A meeting was held Monday evening between the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun’s son-in-law, and representatives of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. The meeting, according to leaked information, did not move forward.
Sources noted that Bassil insisted on appointing the two ministers, especially the interior minister, refusing to let Hariri appoint one of the two Christian ministers.
According to Hariri’s media office, the prime minister-designate on Tuesday briefed his parliamentary bloc on what he had proposed in terms of forming a bailout government under the constitution.
Future Movement vice president Dr Mustafa Alloush said Hariri’s resignation as prime minister designate was one of the options and was not unlikely. “What can Hariri say to the people who were waiting for a new relief government, when he couldn’t form it due to intransigence on the other side?” Does he tell them that we have reached the point of collapse? He told Arab News. “Aoun’s political party is counting on the country to achieve a presidential vacuum without a government, which would allow it to maintain its position.
“If a government is formed without anyone getting the third blockade, Aoun, by the end of his term next year, will have to leave the palace and return home. However, in light of an interim government and a parliament that becomes illegitimate once Aoun’s term ends next May without the holding of legislative elections, Aoun and his party will remain in the presidential palace, bringing history back. upheavals the country witnessed in the 1980s. “
Hariri’s media adviser, Hussein Al-Wajh, said the FPM “threatened” a collective resignation from parliament.
“If FPM deputies resign, Lebanese Forces deputies will follow suit as they are among those calling for early parliamentary elections,” he told Arab News. “We have no problem organizing early parliamentary elections. However, is the other party ready for this scenario? “
A member of the Democratic Rally parliamentary bloc, MK Bilal Abdullah, said all indicators showed that the efforts of Berri and the leader of the Socialist Progressive Party, Walid Joumblatt, had resulted in “some flexibility” in Hariri’s position. However, the meeting held between Bassil and representatives of Hezbollah and the Amal movement had negative results, he added.
“What is happening reflects a lack of awareness of the gravity of the situation in Lebanon and the dire economic and social situation facing the citizens,” Abdullah said.
The World Bank report, according to the Associated Press, said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract 9.5 percent in 2021, after declining 20.3 percent in 2020 and 6 percent, 7% the previous year.
Lebanon’s GDP has grown from nearly $ 55 billion in 2018 to about $ 33 billion in 2020, while GDP per capita has fallen by about 40% in dollars.
Information International, which is a private institution for studies and statistics in Lebanon, said in a report Tuesday that poverty has affected an estimated 2.365 million Lebanese residents.
“About 45% of Lebanese have no health coverage. Most areas suffer from power shortages for more than 10 hours a day.
The report also found that 95 percent of workers received their wages in Lebanese pound, which lost 76 percent of its value. Inflation reached 85% in 2020 and had reached another 26% in the first four months of 2021, bringing the total to 111%.
On October 22 last year, Hariri was tasked with forming a new government following the resignation of then Prime Minister Hassan Diab following the port explosion on August 4.