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Lebanon’s Hariri puts forward cabinet of 24 ministers, says it can save nation

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Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said on Wednesday he had presented a cabinet proposal to President Michel Aoun and is awaiting his response on Thursday, in a move that could end almost nine months of political deadlock amid an economic collapse.

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“Now is the moment of truth,” Hariri, who has been at loggerheads with Aoun over the naming of ministers since his designation in October, told reporters after the meeting.

Lebanon has been without a government since the last one resigned in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast that killed hundreds, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city.

The political deadlock has deepened the financial crisis, dubbed by the World bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history.

“For me this government can start to rescue the country and stop the collapse,” Hariri said.

The cabinet proposal is for 24 specialist ministers in line with a French initiative.

Hariri met with the president upon his return from a visit to Cairo, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other top officials.

Sources in Cairo said Egypt had promised economic and political support for a new government and that a delegation would travel to Beirut soon.

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