Lebanese President calls for an end to government paralysis – News

Michel Aoun implicitly accuses Hezbollah of having prevented the government from meeting without naming the group



Lebanese President Michel Aoun. — AP file

By AP

Published: Tue 28 Dec 2021, 00:10

Lebanon’s president on Monday called for an end to an 11-week standoff that has prevented the government from meeting, further undermining state institutions amid an economic crisis.

President Michel Aoun implicitly accused his powerful ally Hezbollah of preventing the government from meeting, but did not name the group.

In an evening televised address, Aoun also listed a litany of other obstructions that have derailed needed legislation and reforms, criticizing his longtime rival, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, but also without naming him. .

Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government has been unable to meet since October 12 after Hezbollah and its allies demanded the dismissal of the lead judge investigating the massive explosion at the port of Beirut last year. Hezbollah accuses the judge of bias and his government allies have refused to attend cabinet meetings until the government finds a way to remove him.

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Aoun said he had been unfairly criticized and his authority undermined when he could not even force the Cabinet to meet.

“The paralysis of state institutions has become a norm and the result is the destruction of the state,” Aoun said. “In what law, logic or constitution is the Cabinet constrained and required to make a decision which is not within its authority?”

Aoun said the government must meet as soon as possible to resolve outstanding issues.

Mikati took office in September after another stalemate over the balance of power in the government set to govern amid the crisis. The political class is also divided on reform projects, negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and regional relations.

Aoun, Hezbollah’s preferred candidate, was elected president in 2016, filling a post that had been vacant for more than two years. The Aoun-Hezbollah alliance was sealed in 2006 after he returned from exile after the end of Lebanon’s civil war. Since taking office, the alliance has been tested as Aoun has faced an unprecedented economic crisis, floundering in Lebanon’s often divisive sectarian politics.

His Monday speech expressed frustration with the powerful ally, also questioning the aim of creating tension with Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia, followed by other Gulf countries, boycotted Lebanon in October following critical comments from a Hezbollah-allied minister. The minister refused to resign for weeks.

But Aoun, a former army general, refrained from publicly calling out Hezbollah, indicating the alliance held. Aoun is in the final year of his six-year term.

Lebanon is in the grip of an economic crisis described as one of the worst in the world in the past 150 years. International financial institutions call it a deliberate depression accusing the political elite, in power for decades, of mismanaging the country’s resources.

About Tammy N. McFarlane

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