BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Talks aimed at naming a new Lebanese prime minister appeared to receive a blow on Wednesday after three former prime ministers issued a statement criticizing the process so far as violating the constitution.
Lebanon’s House Speaker Nabih Berri says efforts to form a new government have been very positive as of Tuesday, according to MP Ali Bazzi speaking on Wednesday.
The former prime ministers said any candidate for the post of Lebanese prime minister who engages in talks over the make-up of the cabinet before being formally designated premier is violating the constitution.
The statement on Wednesday from former prime ministers Fouad Siniora, Tamman Salam and Najib Mikati was seen as a blow to efforts underway to form a new government led by businessman Samir Khatib.
Statements from Lebanese politicians on Tuesday had appeared to signal progress toward agreeing a new government led by Khatib, though a deal had yet to be done. Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war.
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday he backed Khatib for the post but added that "some details” still had to be hashed out. He said his party would only name technocrats as ministers.
On Tuesday, Fresh clashes erupted between police and anti-government protesters in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut.
Chanting slogans and holding Lebanese national flags, dozens of demonstrators blocked a main road in central Beirut, known as the Ring Bridge.
Lebanese security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Al Arabiya TV channel reported that the police finally forced protesters to relocate from the road and opened it to traffic.
The protests broke out in Lebanon on October 17, when the government introduced a set of economic austerity measures.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on October 29 under pressure from protesters, who accuse the ruling elite of pushing Lebanon towards political turmoil at a time of acute economic crisis.