Cabinet

Mustapha Adib and Macron's "hidden weapon"

The prime minister-designate enjoys the support of a comfortable majority in parliament.

Mustapha Adib received by Saad Hariri. Photo Dalati and Nohra

At the urging of France, which has been forcing its way for several weeks to help Lebanon emerge from the abyss and save what remains of its institutions, a new prime minister was nominated Monday, following quick parliamentary consultations. The move came just in time to break the news to French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in Beirut in the evening of that day.

Ironically, the country had a new head of cabinet on the eve of the highly symbolic date: the celebration of the centennial of Greater Lebanon, created under a French protectorate; with a situation that astonishingly resembles, except for a few nuances, the difficult birth of a French-sponsored cabinet.

Ninety deputies out of 120 still in office have named the former Lebanese ambassador to Berlin Mustapha Adib, who has French nationality and is member of the network of French universi-ties, to preside over the future cabinet in a move that was to be welcomed by his adopted coun-try, France.

In any case, Adib can be proud of such a large support, unlike his predecessor, Hassan Diab, who obtained only 69 votes, and whose majority came from the same political camp, which had weighed on his cabinet throughout his term in office.

This is not the case with the newcomer to the Prime Ministers' club since he can already rely on a multicolored support, having obtained the endorsement of the major political blocs from all sides, with the main exception of the Lebanese Forces (LF), as well as the Syrian Social National-ist Party (SSNP), the Sunnis of the March 8 Coalition and some independents.

Adib's nomination was endorsed by the Shiite duo (which, it should be remembered, had pledged to support the candidacy of Saad Hariri, or any person he would nominate), the Free Patriotic Movement, the Future Movement, Walid Jumblatt's bloc as well as the blocs of Talal Arslan, Najib Mikati and the Armenians. The LF, along with independent MP Fouad Makhzoumi, nominated Nawaf Salam, Lebanon's former delegate to the United Nations and judge at the In-ternational Court of Justice, whose candidacy had been categorically rejected by the Shiite duo.

The SSNP has abstained from naming Adib, as did the Sunnis of March 8 Coalition and MP Jamil Sayyed who contested the way his candidacy was decided and announced Sunday at the end of the meeting of former heads of cabinet. While Walid Sukkarieh, deputy of the Consultative Gathering, denounced a "heresy," which, according to him, consecrated confessionalism in all its amplitude, Sayyed criticized the sponsorship of Adib's candidacy by the former prime minis-ters, who are close to the Future Movement. While praising Adib's profile and qualities, Sayyed wondered to what extent the future Prime Minister will be able to "face those who are his sponsors."

Apprehensions
The new cabinet is expected, at least in its modus operandi and in its effectiveness, to be dif-ferent than the previous cabinet, which failed to implement the major reforms that the interna-tional community has been demanding. It will thus have a very difficult task. It will have to try to find a balance – if it exists – between the request of the protest movement to have an inde-pendent cabinet and a minimal representation of the political forces without becoming their hostage. There are also fears and serious doubts about a rapid formation of the next cabinet.

In his first statement at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Adib pledged to form a cabinet in "record time." "The opportunity before us is slim. We want to form a homogeneous working team of experts and competent people, and quickly launch, in cooperation with the parliament, the necessary reforms in the face of the economic and financial crisis," he said.

Adib will have to overcome the difficulty of putting together a homogeneous team of experts while taking into account the existing balances within the parliament with which he is obliged to cooperate, by preventing the political forces from continuing to hinder the reforms.

The apprehension that the formation of the cabinet will take longer than the current circum-stances allow, especially because of the traditional political tug-of-war over the distribution of portfolios among Lebanon's political heavyweights, is great.

This is what made an analyst to say on Monday that "Emmanuel Macron should not be satisfied with the appointment of the prime minister and return home reassured. He has to monitor the process until the end."

The French president, who visited Monday the great Lebanese diva Feyrouz, met on Tuesday with the leaders of the political parties at the Résidence des Pins, as he did during his last visit. Will Macron resort to the threat of sanctions wielded during his last visit against those who would venture to put obstacles in the way of the new cabinet?

According to Le Figaro, which quoted sources in the French president's entourage, Macron would mainly seek to gain time between now and the holding of early elections which should take place within a year, as Paris wishes.



At the urging of France, which has been forcing its way for several weeks to help Lebanon emerge from the abyss and save what remains of its institutions, a new prime minister was nominated Monday, following quick parliamentary consultations. The move came just in time to break the news to French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in Beirut in the evening of that day.

Ironically,...

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