13 November 2018 Lebanon’s Hariri blames Hezbollah for obstructing government formation

During a televised news conference in Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri blamed Hezbollah for what he called a “big obstacle” in efforts to form a new government, indicating that “the consequences that the country will bear is upon Hezbollah’s responsibility”. Shia Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has been pressing a demand for one of its Sunni allies be given a portfolio in the new cabinet. He indicated that the party would be ready to go back to square one in negotiating a government if necessary. Hariri has refused and said if Hezbollah was so concerned that one of its Sunni allies take a cabinet post, it should give them one of its own. Hezbollah is expected to take three ministries in the new cabinet. Lebanon’s cabinet is supposed to reflect both the parliamentary representation of Lebanon’s main parties and its major religious components. A new government must be formed before any moves can be made towards fiscal reforms, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in June are needed immediately to improve debt sustainability, knowing that the country has the world’s third largest public debt as a proportion of the economy.