Adib Steps Down from Mission to Form Govt amid Impasse
Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Adib resigned on Saturday amid a Cabinet formation deadlock, nearly a month after he was appointed to the job.
Adib said he had been unable to form a reform-minded government to lift the country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.
His announcement deals a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to break a dangerous stalemate in the crisis-hit country.
He announced his position in a statement from Baabda Palace after meeting President Michel Aoun.
"I excuse myself from continuing the task of forming the government," Adib said in a televised speech.
"I apologise to the Lebanese people... for my inability to realise its aspirations for a reformist team," he said.
"Forming a government with specialized specifications based on competence and integrity would have allowed President (Emmanuel) Macron to mobilize the international community to help Lebanon," said Adib.
Macron has been pressing Lebanese politicians to form a Cabinet made up of independent specialists that can work on enacting urgent reforms to extract Lebanon from a devastating economic and financial crisis worsened by the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut port.
But efforts by the French-supported Adib have hit multiple snags, after the country’s main Shiite groups, Hizbullah and Amal, insisted on retaining hold of the key Finance Ministry. Their insistence emerged after the U.S. administration slapped sanctions on two senior politicians close to Hizbullah, including the ex-finance minister.
The two groups also insisted on naming the Shiite ministers in the new Cabinet and objected to the manner in which Adib was forming the government, without consulting with them.
Lebanon, a former French protectorate, is mired in the country’s worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. It defaulted on paying back its debt for the first time ever in March, and the local currency has collapsed, leading to hyperinflation and soaring poverty and unemployment.
The crisis has been worsened by the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut’s port caused by the detonation of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrates. It killed nearly 200 people, injured thousands and caused losses worth billions of dollars.
The country is in desperate need of financial assistance but France and other international powers have refused to provide aid before serious reforms are made. The crisis is largely blamed on decades of systematic corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling class.
The French leader has described his initiative, which includes a road map and a timetable for reforms, as “the last chance for this system.”