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PoliticsMiddle East

Lebanon: PM-designate Adib resigns

September 26, 2020

Mustapha Adib was only named to take over as prime minister less than a month ago. His decision to quit comes amid a deadlock over forming the next Cabinet.

Mustapha Adib
Image: Reuters/M. Azakir

Lebanon's prime minister-designate resigned on Saturday amid a political impasse over the formation of the next Cabinet.

"I excuse myself from continuing the task of forming the government," Mustapha Adib said in a televised speech after meeting Lebanese President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace.

The former ambassador to Germany was only named to the top job at the end of August.

Lebanon's last government stepped down in the wake of the Beirut port blast on August 4 that killed 190 people, injured thousands more and damaged many parts of the coastal capital.

The country is also struggling with a devastating economic crisis that has seen its currency lose 80% of its value since October.

Under Lebanon's sectarian political system, a Sunni must occupy the position of prime minister, while the presidency is given to a Maronite Christian and speaker of parliament to a Shiite Muslim.

The announcement by Adib deals a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron's efforts to break a political stalemate in the crisis-hit country.

"We say to those who applaud the collapse of Macron's initiative today, that you will bite your fingers in regret," said leading Sunni Muslim politician and former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, following the announcement.

What difficulty did Adib have choosing a Cabinet?

The French-backed Abib had tried to form a Cabinet made up of independent specialists that could work on enacting reforms.

Choosing a Cabinet in this way proved difficult in a country where power is shared between Muslims and Christians and political loyalties tend to follow sectarian lines.

Assigning someone to the position of finance minister has proven particularly problematic, after the country's main Shiite groups, Hezbollah and Amal, insisted on retaining hold of the key Finance Ministry.

The two groups also named Shiite ministers in the new cabinet and objected to the manner in which Adib was forming the government.

Adib held several meetings with senior Shiite politicians but failed to reach an agreement on how the minister would be chosen. Shiite leaders feared being sidelined as Adib sought to shake up appointments to ministries, some of which have been controlled by the same faction for years, politicians said.

DW's Beirut Bureau Chief Bassel Aridi said sources had told him that they believed, until last night, that Adib would be able to form a new government.

"It seems that yesterday and this morning, there were continuous talks and calls and communications between all parties to avoid this kind of step down."

Read more: In Lebanon, women drive the fight for change

What is the future for Lebanon?

Aridi said he feared the breakdown could lead to a further collapse of the country's already-strained economic and financial situation.

Adib's resignation comes a few days after Aoun himself bluntly told reporters that Lebanon would be going to "hell" if a new government was not formed soon.

kmm/mm (AP, AFP, Reuters)