France has expressed support for a proposal by Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician Saad Hariri aimed at ending the political standoff that continues to prevent the formation of a new cabinet, Reuters reports.
Formation of the new government has been held because the country’s two main Shia parties insist on naming a number of new ministers, especially the minister of finance.
Former Prime Minister Hariri proposed on Tuesday that Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni, names an independent Shia candidate as finance minister. He made clear that the offered concession should not be taken to mean that he supports the idea that the post of finance minister should be the preserve of the Shia faction always.
While it is not known yet whether the Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal Movement are prepared to endorse the Hariri suggestion, the pro-Hezbollah paper Al-Akhbar has criticized the proposal.
President Michel Aoun, a Christian allied to Hezbollah, warned on Monday that Lebanon would collapse if it fails to form a government and settled down to tackle the crisis which has sent the local currency into freefall, paralysed the banks and driven many citizens into poverty.
France’s Foreign Ministry of France expressed support for Hariri’s proposal, describing it as an opportunity to break through the logjam and to start steering the country out of the crisis.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnès von der Mühll warned that Lebanon is at a crossroads, that its politicians have a responsibility to the Lebanese people to choose recovery over collapse.
France, she added, regrets the failure of Lebanese politicians to form a new government by now, since doing so constitutes the first vital step towards implementation of necessary reforms.
French diplomatic sources pointed out that while Paris continues to urge Lebanese politicians to form a new government, it has not set a new deadline for doing so after the mid-September one was missed.