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Lebanese Government Marred by Several Disputes

Lebanese Government Marred by Several Disputes

Thursday, 26 March, 2020 - 11:45
President Michel Aoun is briefed on the work of doctors, paramedics and Lebanese Red Cross volunteers, from his office in Baabda (NNA).
Beirut - Mohamed Choucair

Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government is marred by disputes and confusion over its inability to develop an integrated plan to stop Lebanon’s economic collapse.

Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni, with the support of Speaker Nabih Berri, has called for removing from discussion a proposed draft-law on Capital Control on withdrawals and transfers in hard currencies.

Another matter of contention is the appointment of new deputies to the central bank governor, as well as the president and members of the Banking Supervision Committee and the government’s commissioner at Banque du Liban.

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ongoing disputes put the government in front of two options: avoiding tackling the controversial issues in Thursday’s cabinet session to give the opportunity for further deliberations, or raising the subjects, under pressure by President Michel Aoun and a number of other ministers. The second option threatens to “shake the government from within”, according to observers.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, political sources noted that the issue of appointments was discussed in a closed meeting between Diab and the political aide to Speaker Nabih Berri, former Minister and MP Ali Hassan Khalil.

The talks ended in a misunderstanding, according to the sources, who stressed that making the appointments by limiting the Christian quota to the FPM leader, former Minister Gebran Bassil, would push the Marada chief, former Minister Sleiman Franjieh, from abandoning his party’s seat in the current government.

With regards to the capital control, the sources explained that Berri has backed calls to withdraw the proposal, as the legalization of related measures come in contradiction with the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution, which stipulates Lebanon’s adherence to a free economic system.

The same sources consider that the main party that would be affected by the draft-law is the Shiite community, as Shiite depositors have the largest percentage of deposits in Lebanese banks, compared to other communities.

The sources believe that this issue will remain pending until other solutions are found, and confirm that the spread of the coronavirus will inevitably push towards delaying the annoucement of an economic rescue plan.

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