Macron ups the ante in Lebanon

French President Macron has presented Lebanon with an ultimatum 

Lebanese political sources have revealed to the Beirut based publication, The Arab Weekly, that the Lebanese Prime Minister-designate, Mustapha Adib, is heading towards forming a government that does not include politicians.

This, as an article in the publication confirms, implies that Hezbollah may find itself outside a government formation in Lebanon for the first time since 2005.

With input from AFP sources, The Arab Weekly also reports  that any such a government would also anger the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun and his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, who insist that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Energy remain under their direct or indirect control.

The sources would not speculate on President Aoun’s reaction in the event the Prime Minister-designate submitted for his approval a list of cabinet members where he was not represented.

They also indicated that President Emmanuel Macron has  insisted the new Lebanese government will not include any representatives of the political parties.

In this regard, the sources mentioned that Macron, who had asked former Prime Minister Saad Hariri not to oppose the appointment of Mustapha Adib, had also threatened Lebanese politicians that if they want to guarantee a future for them and for Lebanon, they would have to accept France’s demands. Reports in the the French newspaper Le Figaro recently, indicate Macron was not ruling out sanctions against Michel Aoun, Gebran Bassil, two of Aoun’s three daughters and personalities close to him such as Salim Jreissati, in addition to other Lebanese politicians such as Nabih Berri and Saad Hariri.

A Lebanese woman in the crowd shouted at Adib: “We don’t want you; you do not represent the people; you are from the authority.” Another man shouted: “Those who elected you to form the government are criminals.”

Sources indicated that Macron would not have taken the step of imposing Mustapha Adib without first consulting with Iran, ensuring those in power in Tehran force Hezbollah to accept conditions to stay outside the new government and take up the task of “convincing” Michel Aoun that he has no interest in clinging to the ministries of foreign affairs and energy.

Mustapha Adib, former Lebanese ambassador to Germany, has been tasked by President Aoun with forming a new government.

Senior Lebanese officials revealed that Macron pressured Lebanese political leaders to agree on a candidate for the premiership within the forty-eight hours that preceded their agreement on Adib.

For his part, Adib, who won the support of the main political parties, said, “All Lebanese are very concerned about the present and the future. God willing, we will succeed in this task to select a homogeneous Lebanese team of competent and specialised people, and we will all proceed, in cooperation with the honourable Parliament, to carry out basic reforms and quickly, which would put the country on the right path of recovery and stop the dangerous financial, economic and social bleeding.”

“The opportunity ahead of our country is narrow and the task I accepted is based on the fact that all political forces realise this and understand the need to form a government in a record time and start implementing reforms as soon as the agreement with the International Monetary Fund is concluded,” he added.

Forming new cabinets in Lebanon often takes a long time due to lengthy political haggling over portfolios. Immediately following his appointment, Adib visited the areas severely affected by the disaster of the port explosion, where he was met with verbal protests.

During his tour, a Lebanese woman shouted at Adib: “We don’t want you; you do not represent the people; you are from the authority.” Another man shouted: “Those who elected you to form the government are criminals (meaning the representatives).”

A source in the French presidency stated that Macron’s demands were “clear: an important, clean, and effective government capable of implementing the necessary reforms in Lebanon and thus able to obtain strong international support.”

Adib’s name has emerged for the post of prime minister after he was nominated by former prime ministers, including Saad Hariri, who leads the largest Sunni political party. The prime minister should be of the Sunni community, according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.

With the support of Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Adib has more support than Hassan Diab had. The latter resigned, with his government, on August 10, six days after the huge blast at Beirut port.

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