With state employees and pensioners already struggling to survive on meager wages and benefits, reforms sought by global donors are sparking unrest
Dozens of Lebanese military and security veterans burned tires and shouted angrily outside government offices on Friday, their second protest in less than two weeks amid fears a proposed austerity budget may affect their pensions and benefits.
The protesters gathered in downtown Beirut as ministers met to discuss a budget bill that aims to cut public spending and tackle a national debt that stands at more than 150% of GDP. They denounced leaked reports of cuts to their pensions, calling on the government to address corruption instead.
Watchdogs voiced fears Wednesday that next month’s by-election in Tripoli might do away with pre-printed ballots.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is expected to meet with President Michel Aoun over the weekend to assess the developments as per the formation of the new government after completing consultations, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Two weeks after his designation, “Hariri is set to present the first government format, a Cabinet comprised of 30 ministers distributed on various political parties very much similar to the current caretaker Cabinet,” unnamed sources told the daily.
Head of the Constitutional Council Issam Suleiman announced on Thursday that 17 appeals have be filed to the Council contesting the results of the parliamentary elections.
Suleiman said the appeal “does not stop the results of the elections. Elected candidates are considered lawmakers as soon as the results are announced,” he said during a press conference one day after the deadline for submitting appeals expired.
In spite of “optimistic atmospheres” of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri that he is putting “maximum effort” to line-up the government, the formation path “has not witnessed any announced contacts” since his return from Riyadh, amid indecisiveness on whether it should include 32, 30 or 26 portfolios, al-Joumjouria daily reported on Thursday.
Sources of al-Mustaqbal Movement told the daily “although consultations are still young, but they are in progress.” They said Hariri wants to balance between the aspirations of political parties and the need to form a government."
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced on Tuesday during a Iftar in Beirut that the government to be formed will be comprised of 30 ministers.
“The government that we will form hopefully will be of 30 ministers, this is the maximum that I can announce, and cooperation is ongoing with all parties to accomplish this task,” said Hariri in a speech he made.
“I am optimistic that all political parties are cooperating to form this government. If we want to please each party regarding the number of ministers it wants, we would form a government of 50 ministers,” he added.
Lebanon’s new government to be formed by PM-designate Saad Hariri will not “isolate” any political party, amid assurances that any obstacle threatening the formation process will be “overcome,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Sources of President Michel Aoun said: “The new government will not isolate anyone,” noting that the “Lebanese Forces are not targeted at all,” and that their concerns have been addressed during a meeting between the President and LF chief Samir Geagea.
The Lebanese Forces emphasized eagerness to maintain good relations with President Michel Aoun, voicing fears that outgoing Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil “seeks to break” their ties with the “presidential term,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.
“Bassil wants to blow the LF relationship with the presidential term,” by allocating the share of the president in the new government to figures belonging to his “political line,” LF sources told the daily on condition of anonymity.
One of the "main obstacles" facing PM-designate Saad Hariri’s bid to form a new government is “Hizbullah’s demand that a ministerial seat be allocated to a Sunni deputy close to the party,” the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Tuesday.
“The party has presented its demand to Hariri during Monday’s consultations, and is expected to reiterate it later on,” well-informed sources told the daily on condition of anonymity.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Monday held one-day, unbinding consultations with the parliamentary blocs and deputies in Nejmeh Square, kicking off his bid to form a new government.
Hariri first met with Speaker Nabih Berri, and afterwards met separately with former PM Tammam Salam and ex-PM Najib Miqati.
Salam made remarks to reporters after the meeting saying although everyone is calling for a quick Cabinet formation, “but I don’t think it should be rushed.”
The line-up of the new government is likely to be announced on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr holiday or shortly afterwards, a media report said.
"The parties' demands regarding portfolios and shares will not become totally clear before the end of the one-day official consultations that PM-designate Saad Hariri will hold Monday with the parliamentary blocs," political sources informed on the formation process told al-Hayat daily in remarks published Sunday.
Lebanon’s upcoming new government to be lined up under Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “may adopt the format of the previous government's policy statement regarding a clause on Hizbullah’s resistance,” the pan-Arab al-Hayat daily reported on Saturday.
Quoting political sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, they said the government may adhere to the same clauses on Hizbullah’s resistance as the ones mentioned in the policy statement back in 2016.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is set to begin lining up his government starting next week amid reports that the future Cabinet will see two new ministries added to the already 30-member assembly, the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa daily reported Saturday.
“Monday will see another day in the path of the Prime Minister in charge of forming an expanded government of national unity, as described by Speaker Nabih Berri, and it will be comprised of 32 ministers to include for the first time, minority Alawite and Christian ministers,” said the daily.
The binding parliamentary consultations to name the next prime minister kicked off at Baabda Palace on Thursday, as caretaker PM Saad Hariri was first to arrive and meet with President Michel Aoun.
Based on the statements made this week by various parliamentary blocs, Hariri is widely expected to be renamed premier in the consultations.
MP-elect ex-PM Najib Miqati, who leads a four-member parliamentary bloc, met with Aoun and told reporters afterwards that he nominates Hariri for the premiership.