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Lebanon PM-designate steps down, unable to form government

Lebanon PM-designate steps down, unable to form government

Mustapha Adib quit on Saturday after a meeting with President Michel Aoun in Baabda near the capital, Beirut

Mustapha Adib Lebanon

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate stepped down after failing to form a government, leaving the nation rudderless as it struggles to recover from a devastating explosion at its main port last month.

Mustapha Adib quit on Saturday after a meeting with President Michel Aoun in Baabda near the capital, Beirut. The 48-year-old diplomat and academic was tapped to form a government on August 31, after the previous governing coalition resigned following the August 4 blast at the Port of Beirut.

“I am excusing myself from continuing the task of forming the government,” Adib told reporters after presenting his resignation letter to Aoun. “Consensus no longer exists.”

Adib had the backing of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for political reforms and for the country to be run by technocrats unaffiliated with any political parties. A colonial power until 1943, France has maintained a close relationship with Lebanon, hosting a number of international conferences to drum up financial support.

Earlier this month, Macron said that about $11bn in loans and grants pledged to Lebanon at the Paris-hosted CEDRE conference in 2018 won’t be released unless Lebanon has enacted reforms.

The failure to form a government is a “collective betrayal” by Lebanon’s political parties, a person close to Macron’s office said Saturday, adding that France won’t abandon Lebanon.

Macron will comment at a suitable time, the person said.

The United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, also criticised the nation’s politicians for failing to form a government.

Lebanon is grappling with the deepest economic and political crisis in its recent history.

The nation defaulted on $30bn of international debt this year and its bickering ruling class has been unable to take steps to redress an economy in tatters and relieve the plight of a population sinking deeper into poverty.

The blast at the port is estimated by the World Bank to have caused as much as $4.6bn in physical damage.

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