Nasrallah says Lebanon’s political system is in crisis

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Lebanon’s current crisis has its roots in the political system, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday.

He blamed the country’s deepening economic woes on the US for “blocking” financial aid and investment.

“It’s not just a Cabinet crisis. The government crisis in Lebanon is the result of a system crisis,” the leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese armed group said.

Lebanon has been without a fully functioning Cabinet since the massive Beirut blast compounded the country’s economic challenges and forced the resignation of outgoing prime minister Hassan Diab’s government last August.

Eleven months later, despite the urgency, President Michel Aoun and prime minister-designate Saad Hariri remain at loggerheads over the make-up and reform agenda of the coming Cabinet.

The prime minister, a post reserved for a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s confessional power-sharing system, has accused the president of seeking a third of the Cabinet seats to secure veto power over key resolutions.

Mr Aoun, on the other hand, has attacked Mr Hariri for seeking to dictate the Cabinet make-up. The post of president is reserved for a Christian.

The constitution requires both the president and the prime minister to grant their approval for the Cabinet to be formed.

Nasrallah said he expects discussions in the coming days to shape the course of Cabinet formation talks.

“These days are supposed to be decisive when it comes to the government formation,” he said.

The international community has long pressed Lebanon’s leader to form a Cabinet that enacts reforms in exchange for financial aid to help tackle the crisis, without success.

The crisis, which the World Bank called ranked among the world’s most severe since the mid-19th century, has plunged more than half the country’s population into poverty and led to shortages in vital goods such as fuel and medicine amid dwindling foreign currency reserves. Shortages in foreign currencies led the Lebanese pound to lose more than 95 per cent of its market value since late 2019.

Nasrallah said the crisis was partly fuelled by corruption and mismanagement but was mainly the outcome of a US embargo on Lebanon.

He accused Washington, which classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, of blocking financial aid and investments as Lebanese officials fear US sanctions if the government taps China and Russia for financing and investments.

The blockage, Nasrallah argued, was aimed at deepening the crisis to turn the Lebanese against Hezbollah. Last month, Nasrallah said Hezbollah would take action to alleviate shortages if they persist, and that his party had finalised preparations to import Iranian fuel into Lebanon.

Updated: July 5th 2021, 5:27 PM



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