BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanese prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri abandoned his months-long effort to form a new government on Thursday, dimming the chances of a cabinet being agreed any time soon that could start rescuing the country from financial meltdown.
“I have just met with the President who informed me about his rejection to some of the names mentioned in my last cabinet lineup. The President told me that we will not be able to cooperate together in forming a new government,” Hariri said after his meeting with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace.
“It is clear that the position of Aoun has not changed... and that we will not be able to agree,” Hariri said.
Lebanon has been going through its worst economic and financial crisis, exacerbated by the absence of a government to implement structural reforms.
The country has been running without a cabinet since Aug. 10, 2020, when caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned following the Beirut port’s explosions which killed more than 200 and wounded thousands of others.
Hariri was appointed as new prime minister on Oct. 22, 2020, but he has failed to form a new cabinet because of his differences with Aoun over distribution of ministerial portfolios.
Commenting on the announcement, Aoun said in a statement that Hariri was not ready to discuss any changes to the government proposal he had submitted a day earlier.
The statement said Hariri had proposed that Aoun take one more day to accept the suggested proposal, but the president had responded, “What is the use of one additional day if the door to discussions was closed.”
The World Bank has called Lebanon’s crisis one of the worst depressions of modern history. The country’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value since fall 2019 and more than half of the population has been rendered jobless as businesses have shut down.