Lebanese Christian Party Says It Won’t Join Government On Hariri’s Terms

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s largest Christian political party will not join a new government under the conditions determined by caretaker premier Saad al-Hariri, but will not obstruct the creation of a new cabinet, its own chief said on Thursday.

The Job of the Free Patriotic Movement led by Gebran Bassil could ease the solution to the formation of a Hariri-led government. Much depends on if Bassil’s ally, the powerful Shi’ite Hezbollah, will consent to its main Christian ally staying from government.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose group is backed by Iran, is place to deal with the country on Friday.

Lebanon is in immediate need of a new government to pull on it out of a deepening economic crisis that has shaken confidence in its own banking system. Foreign donors have stated they would offer support only after a cabinet able to enact reforms is in place.

The country was mired in political gridlock because Hariri, the top Sunni politician at a sectarian power-sharing system, resigned on Oct. 29 and made his return conditional on leading a cabinet comprised exclusively of specialists.

Bassil’s participation has been a particularly contentious sticking point in talks over the authorities with Aoun, who has insisted the Christian party leader be included in any new government headed by Hariri, political sources say.

The crisis took an important turn on Sunday, when Lebanon’s top Sunni cleric said he backed Hariri to become prime minister again, killing a tentative compromise on a different candidate for a job reserved for a Sunni.

“If Prime Minister Hariri insists on the equation’either me or nobody ”’ as prime minister, Bassil stated, the Free Patriotic Movement is not interested in participating in such a government”since its destiny will be certain failure.”

Bassil appeared to leave the door open to his party to engage on different terms, saying he supported the creation of a government made up entirely of technocrats, including its ministry.

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