Lebanon PM designate bids to form crisis cabinet within two weeks

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Lebanon's newly appointed prime minister designate Mustapha Adib and the leaders of the country's various factions have pledged to form a crisis cabinet within two weeks.  PHOTO:  AFP

BEIRUT  —  Lebanon’s prime minister designate Mustapha Adib started talks on forming a crisis government Wednesday, under French pressure to complete the task within two weeks to move forward with desperately needed reforms.

The consultations came after a high-profile visit by French President Emmanuel Macron during which he said political leaders had agreed a road map for reform after last month’s devastating blast in the port of Beirut.

“As I leave Beirut, I want to say again and with conviction: I will not abandon you,” Macron said in a statement as he flew out on Wednesday.

The last government resigned in the face of public anger over the August 4 explosion that killed at least 188, wounded thousands and laid waste to entire districts of the capital.

Government formation is usually a drawn-out process in multi-confessional Lebanon where a complex political system seeks to share power between different religious groups.

But the country’s deadliest peacetime disaster has created intense pressure for swift reforms to lift the country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.

Premier designate Adib started meeting parliamentary bloc leaders, as Pope Francis warned Lebanon faced “extreme danger that threatens the very existence of the country”.

“Lebanon cannot be abandoned to its solitude,” the pope said.

Lebanese lawmakers rushed to approve the nomination of the little-known 48-year-old diplomat on Monday just hours before the French president landed.–AFP

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