In Lebanon, the change is obviously not for now. President Michel Aoun was to open, Thursday, October 15, official consultations to designate a head of government capable of getting the country out of the rut in which it finds itself. At the last minute, these were postponed for a week, to Thursday, October 22, “Due to the emergence of difficulties which need to be overcome”, announced the presidency.
In fact, informal negotiations have already started and we can already see the photos of the meetings between major party leaders circulating. And the result could have a bitter taste for the actors of the protest …
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As they prepare to celebrate, Saturday, October 17, the first anniversary of the thawra, the Lebanese revolution, it is Saad Hariri, the Prime Minister whose departure they have not without difficulty, who could make his big return to the Seraglio, the residence of the Prime Ministers. “I am convinced that the initiative of President Emmanuel Macron is the only and last opportunity to stop the collapse of the country and rebuild Beirut”, said in a statement the head of the Current of the Future, expressing his availability.
Government of specialists
Son of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, himself already twice appointed to this post, in 2009 and 2016, Saad Hariri does not exactly have the profile requested by Emmanuel Macron in the roadmap he left on 1is September: “A government of specialists who do not belong to political parties” for “Implement the reforms” essential to the survival of the country.
Unperturbed, the Sunni leader wants to try his luck, even if nothing indicates that the blocking factors which led Moustapha Adib to give up in September have disappeared. In particular the refusal of the Shiite parties – Hezbollah and Amal – that a Sunni prime minister can appoint all the members of the cabinet.
Aware of pitfalls
Invoking the Constitution, article 95 of which provides that communities must be “Fairly represented in government”, Hezbollah is keen to uphold the tradition that each of them names ” his “ ministers, and also to retain the lucrative post of finance minister, regularly allocated to a Shiite in recent years.
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For their part, other figures in the Lebanese political scene, such as Gebran Bassil, son-in-law of President Aoun and accustomed to ministerial cabinets, are reluctant to pass their turn if Saad Hariri was himself authorized to lead the crew. « Macron was greeted with smiles and promises, but as soon as he turned his back, the political blocs started arguing for power again and meanwhile the economic crisis worsened ”sighs a European diplomat.
Well aware of all these pitfalls, Saad Hariri could apply the same recipe as his predecessor, the ephemeral Hassan Diab, who resigned after the explosion that devastated the port of Beirut on August 4: let each camp name its « experts », officially to better focus on the essential: reforms. According to those close to him, the meetings of the last few days were organized for this purpose: to verify « l’engagement » Lebanese parties in favor of the reform plan he defends and “The absence of blocking practices”.
Smiles and promises
The demonstrators, convinced that the political class is responsible for the looting of the country, have stopped waiting for them to find a solution to their ills. “Immediately after his resignation, we knew that Saad Hariri was coming back: our only question was ‘when'”, ironically Hussein el-Achi, lawyer and head of the Menteshrin movement, born out of the October revolution. “He is just the Trojan horse of this whole clique of politicians that we know very well how it works. By bringing Hariri back, they think they are calming the Sunnis. By using violent incidents, they try to frighten Christians and then present Hariri to them as a savior. But the only thing he saved was his money in Switzerland and Luxembourg! “
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Friday 16 and Saturday 17 October, when the actors of the thawra will celebrate the anniversary of their first parades just a year ago, Saad Hariri should not be spared by their slogans. “Some activists see his return to the head of government as a provocation”, denounces Hussein el-Achi.