Lebanon PM-designate steps down amid impasse over gov’t formation

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib has announced his resignation after his efforts to line up a non-partisan cabinet ran into trouble, particularly over who would run the finance ministry.

In a televised address on Saturday, Adib said he was stepping down from “the task of forming the government” following a meeting with President Michel Aoun.

The formation of government in Lebanon has been hit by a logjam over the demand of two dominant Shia parties – Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal Movement – to name Shia ministers in the cabinet.

Shia leaders feared being sidelined as Adib, a Sunni Muslim, sought to shake up appointments to ministries, some of which have been controlled by the same faction for years, politicians said.

The efforts to form the Lebanese government failed despite French pressure on sectarian leaders to rally together to deal with the worst crisis since a 1975-1990 civil war.

Adib, former ambassador to Berlin, was picked on August 31 to form a cabinet.

He had tried to form a government of specialists in a nation where power is shared between Muslims and Christians and political loyalties tend to follow sectarian lines.

But his efforts ran into the sand over cabinet appointments, particularly the post of finance minister, who will have a crucial role in drawing up a programme to lift Lebanon out of a deep economic crisis.

Crushed by a mounting debt crisis, Lebanon’s banks are paralysed and its currency is in freefall.

Talks with the International Monetary Fund on a vital bailout package stalled this year. The cabinet’s first task would have been to restart negotiations.

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