Lebanon’s president called Wednesday on the prime minister-designate to form a government immediately or step aside as the country plunges deeper into economic crisis.
In turn, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri swiftly challenged President Michel Aoun to step down — a sign of a prolonged political crisis.
The intractable political battle comes against the backdrop of an economic crash that is proving to be the most serious challenge to the small country’s stability since its 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
In a televised statement Wednesday, Aoun said that Cabinet lists proposed by Hariri, who was named to the post of premier last October, did not meet the minimum requirements needed to preserve national accord.
Aoun urged Hariri to meet him at the presidential palace and work together on forming a government or step aside if they cannot agree. The call seems an attempt to deflect blame for months-long political battle in which both sides have traded accusations of obstruction.
In response, Hariri tweeted that he was surprised by the president’s televised invitation and instead urged Aoun to approve Hariri’s last list, which he described as consisting of experts and not political nominees.
Hariri also called on Aoun to spare the Lebanese more suffering by allowing early presidential elections, and challenging him to spell out why he has so far declined all Cabinets proposed by the premier-designate.