Hariri says Lebanon 'must form the government'

The country's parliamentary elections in May were the first for nine years but lawmakers have since failed to form a government.
Tuesday 01/01/2019
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, November 13, 2018. (Reuters)
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, November 13, 2018. (Reuters)

BEIRUT - Lebanon's prime minister-designate, Saad Hariri, warned Tuesday a government needs to be formed as the country faces a tough economic situation after months of political deadlock.

"We have fallen behind -- we must form the government," he told reporters at the presidential palace, after a long meeting with President Michel Aoun.

"The president and I are determined to meet again and finish this issue, because the country cannot continue without a government," Hariri said.

He called for political factions in the multi-confessional country to cooperate on reviving the political process.

Lebanon is governed by a complex system that guarantees a delicate balance between religious communities and their political parties, so decisions are made by consensus, making for protracted bargaining.

The country's parliamentary elections in May were the first for nine years but lawmakers have since failed to form a government.

In mid-November, Hariri accused his main political rival -- the Shiite movement Hezbollah -- of obstructing the formation of a new cabinet.

A month later, he promised that Lebanon would have a government "by the end of the year".

The slow process has worried observers, as the economy is teetering on the brink of disaster, hit hard by the fallout from the conflict that has ravaged neighbouring Syria since 2011.

"The economic situation is difficult, but this is not to say it is impossible," Hariri said Tuesday.

The international community pledged up to $11.5 billion (10 billion euros) in aid and loans for Lebanon at a conference in Paris in April.

But the promised funding is largely destined for infrastructure projects, which cannot be actioned without a new cabinet.

(Agence France-Presse)