Lebanon’s biggest Christian party says won’t back Hariri for PM

Lebanon’s largest Christian political party said on Saturday it would not back the nomination of former Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri to lead a government to tackle a deep economic crisis. (File/Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 17 October 2020

Lebanon’s biggest Christian party says won’t back Hariri for PM

  • Hariri could still secure a parliamentary majority if Hezbollah and Amal endorse him for premier
  • But the absence of support from either of the main Christian blocs would hand him at best a fragile mandate to tackle Lebanon’s crisis

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s largest Christian political party said on Saturday it would not back the nomination of former Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri to lead a government to tackle a deep economic crisis, further complicating efforts to agree a new premier.
Hariri, who quit as prime minister last October in the face of nationwide protests, has said he is ready to lead a government to implement reforms proposed by France as a way to unlock badly needed international aid.
But Hariri, Lebanon’s most prominent Sunni Muslim politician, has failed to win backing from the two main Christian parties — the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Lebanese Forces.
Parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister were due to be held last Thursday, but President Michel Aoun postponed the discussions after receiving requests for a delay from some parliamentary blocs.
The FPM, which is led by Aoun’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil, said it could not back a political figure such as Hariri because French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal had called for a reformist government made up of and led by “specialists.”
As a result, the party’s political council “decided unanimously not to nominate... Hariri to lead the government,” a statement said, adding that Aoun’s week-long postponement would not lead the party to reconsider its position.
Hariri could still secure a parliamentary majority if the powerful Shiite group Hezbollah and its ally Amal endorse him for premier.
But the absence of support from either of the main Christian blocs would hand him at best a fragile mandate to tackle Lebanon’s gravest crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
The country has plunged into financial turmoil and the value of the Lebanese pound has collapsed. COVID-19 and a huge explosion at Beirut’s port two months ago have compounded the crisis and pushed many Lebanese into poverty.
Hariri, who has served twice as prime minister, resigned two weeks after huge protests erupted exactly a year ago.
The demonstrations, triggered by plans to tax voice calls made through the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging application, grew into wider protests against Lebanon’s political elite.


Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

Updated 23 November 2020

Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

  • The Turkish foreign ministry said Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and searched the Roseline A commercial vessel without permission off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus peninsula
  • Footage filmed by the vessel’s crew and aired on Turkish television showed a quarrel between crew members and armed German soldiers who landed on the ship from a helicopter

ISTANBUL: Turkey accused the German navy on Monday of conducting an “unauthorized” search on a Turkish-flagged cargo vessel in a bid to enforce a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
But the European Union’s Operation Irini — tasked with halting arms shipments to the strife-torn north African country — said it had made a “good faith” effort to get Turkey’s consent for the inspection and aborted it as soon as Ankara made its objections clear.
The Turkish foreign ministry said Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and searched the Roseline A commercial vessel without permission on Sunday evening off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus peninsula.
Footage filmed by the vessel’s crew and aired repeatedly on Turkish television showed a quarrel between crew members and armed German soldiers who landed on the ship from a helicopter.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the vessel was carrying paint and humanitarian supplies headed to the Libyan port of Misrata.
“This intervention was carried out with the consent of neither our country as the flag state nor the ship’s captain,” the Turkish ministry said.
“I am strongly condemning this unlawful intervention,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay added.
Ankara on Monday summoned the EU and Italian ambassadors as well as the German embassy’s charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry, conveying a diplomatic note protesting the “unauthorized” inspection, the foreign ministry said.
The action was “against international law,” the ministry said in the note, adding that Turkey reserved its right to compensation.
But both the operation’s European command and officials in Berlin said Turkey raised its objections only after the German soldiers had boarded the vessel.
“Everything went exactly according to protocol,” a German foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
Operation Irini said in statement that it had “made good faith efforts to seek (Turkey’s) consent.”
“When (Turkey) made it clear that it denied the permission to inspect the vessel, Operation Irini suspended the activities during which no evidence of illicit material was found,” it said.
Operation Irini’s official website says the mission reserves the right to board ships without permission when conducting so-called “friendly approaches.”
Libya has endured almost a decade of violence since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Turkey backs the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya and views the EU mission as biased in favor of the eastern command — backed by the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia and France.
The warring sides agreed a cease-fire deal last month that paves the way for national elections on December 24.
But the process remains fragile and four EU powers involved in efforts to end the conflict issued a joint statement Monday threatening sanctions against “all Libyan and international parties” standing in the way of peace.
Operation Irini said the aborted inspection of the Turkish vessel was the fifth since the mission was officially launched on March 31.
Turkey last sparred with EU powers over inspections when a French frigate under NATO command sought in June to search a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship.
Paris then complained that one of its ships was subjected to radar targeting by Turkish frigates while trying to inspect the cargo.
Ankara denied the charge.