After a cabinet fiasco, where to now for crisis-hit Lebanon?

With Lebanon already mired in multiple crises, where does the failure to form a government despite intense international pressure leave the country?
Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crunch in decades, and still reeling from a colossal blast at the capital’s port on August 4 that killed more than 190 people, injured thousands, and ravaged large parts of Beirut.
France earlier this month extracted a promise from political forces that they would help prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib draw up a cabinet within a fortnight, but on Saturday he threw in the towel.
Is there a new deadline? French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday gave Lebanese leaders another “four to six weeks” to form
a crisis government of independents as a prerequisite to much-needed financial aid.
“It now is up to Lebanese leaders to seize this last chance’’, he said.
President Michel Aoun, who on Monday said he still stood by the French initiative, must now consult parliamentary blocs on the choice of a new premier-designate, before that candidate can even start trying to form a cabinet.
This is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex power-sharing system seeks to maintain a fragile balance between its various political and religious sides.
In practice, main political forces usually agree on a new prime minister even before the president names him. And similarly, they back a cabinet line-up even before the premier-designate announces it.
“This will take quite a bit of time’’, said Maha Yahya, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Centre.
This was bad news for a debt-ridden country desperately in need of restarting stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund towards saving its crumbling economy.
“Meanwhile we’re left with a caretaker government that really cannot take any decisions… and certainly cannot negotiate
with the IMF on an economic recovery plan,’’, she said. — AFP

Alice Hackman