Lebanon’s premier-designate says more time needed to form cabinet

Beirut, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Mustafa Adib said Thursday he needs more time to form a new government, two days after a 15-day deadline set by the French president expired.

“We agreed with the president to wait a little, to give more time for consultations to form the government,” Adib told reporters after a meeting with the Lebanese President Michel Aoun, according to the National New Agency (NNA).

French authorities regretted the delay and urged Lebanese politicians to fulfill their commitments.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said “it is not too late” and that each of the parliamentary blocs must enable Adib to form a government, according to the Elysee Palace.

Adib’s attempts to form a cabinet have hit a snag because the finance ministry portfolio should be given to a Shiite, traditionally affiliated with the Hezbollah-allied Lebanese Shiite Amal Movement.

Earlier, Hezbollah said in a statement that the reason behind the delay was due to recent sanctions imposed by the United States against former minister Ali Hassan Khalil, one of Amal’s members.

“We condemn the negative role of the United States in hindering the efforts to form the government,” Hezbollah said.

Lebanon’s parliament speaker and head of the Amal movement Nabih Berri expressed disappointment over the sanctions against a member of his party, as well as the rotating system implemented in the ministerial portfolios of the new government.

Macron gave a 15-day deadline to Lebanese political forces to form a government during a visit to Beirut on 1 September.

His first visit came after the massive blast on 4 August that devastated Beirut and killed more than 190 people, wounded more than 6,500 others and left around 300,000 homeless.

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