Lebanon’s Aoun: Consultations to form new government may start on Thursday

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday that formal consultations with MPs over the nomination of the next prime minister could begin on Thursday or Friday but he was waiting for answers without which it may take a few days longer.

Aoun said he had found outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri hesitant about taking the job again and he backed a Cabinet mixing technocrats and politicians.

“I met with Hariri and I found him hesitant between yes and no,” Aoun said in a televised interview.

Hariri quit as prime minister of a coalition government on October 29.

Regarding the ongoing protests across the country, Aound said “We called on the demonstrators for dialogue and we did not receive an answer from them.”

He added “We need time to regain trust.”

Aoun called on protesters to go home, saying their demands had been heard, and warned of a “catastrophe” if they stay in the streets.

He also urged the Lebanese not to rush to the banks to withdraw their money, which he said was safe.

Regarding his son-in-law who is the caretaker foreign minister Aoun said “nobody can veto Gebran Bassil being a minister.”

Earlier a top UN official in Lebanon called on Tuesday for the urgent designation of the next prime minister, and for the quick formation of a new Cabinet of people known for “competence and integrity.”

Jan Kubis, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, added that such a cabinet would be in a better position to appeal for international support.

On Saturday, Aoun met with several Cabinet ministers and top banking officials in search for solutions for the deepening financial and economic crisis.

The country’s financial troubles have worsened since nationwide protests - initially against new taxes - snowballed into calls for the entire political elite to step down.

-with Reuters

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