No sign of new Lebanese cabinet

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Saad al Hariri met President Michel Aoun without announcing progress towards forming a new government, as banking sources said most financial transfers out of the country remained blocked.
Already facing the worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, Lebanon has been pitched deeper into turmoil since October 17 by an unprecedented wave of protests against the ruling elite that led Hariri to resign as prime minister last week.
Banks reopened last Friday after a two-week closure but customers have encountered restrictions on transfers out of the country and withdrawals of hard currency.
Politician Samy Gemayel warned the financial system was on the verge of collapse, and urged the immediate formation of a politically neutral government. A banking source said that generally all international transfers were still being blocked bar some exceptions such as foreign mortgage payments and tuition fees. A second banking source said restrictions had gotten tighter.
The chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon said this week the banks were not applying a policy of restrictions “but we are prioritising” after the two-week closure that had led requests to pile up.
Hariri has been holding closed-door meetings with other factions in the outgoing coalition cabinet over how the next government should be formed, but there have been no signs of movement towards an agreement.
Aoun has yet to formally start the process of consultations with lawmakers over nominating the new prime minister. The presidency said Aoun and Hariri discussed contacts aimed at solving “the current government situation”. — AFP