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    Adib to meet Aoun Saturday for more Cabinet talks

    BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib left his fifth consultation with President Michel Aoun Friday on the formation of a new government, saying only that the pair would meet again the following morning.

    “I updated his excellency the president on the consultations I have carried out to form a government, and we agreed to meet Saturday morning at 11 a.m., God willing,” Adib said in televised remarks after his meeting at Baabda Palace.

    A source at the presidential palace told The Daily Star that Adib did not present a draft Cabinet lineup to Aoun but that the atmosphere of the meeting had been “positive.” He said that the pair evaluated the stances of the political parties after Adib’s consultations with them over the past two days.

    The source added that he did not get the impression that Adib would resign after the meeting Saturday, suggesting that some progress was being made on breaking the weekslong deadlock that has marred the government formation process.

    Lebanon has been waiting for a new government since outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned on Aug. 10, several days after the catastrophic Beirut Port explosion that killed more that 190 people and injured 6,500 more.

    Adib hit a brick wall trying to pull together a Cabinet after Shiite parties the Amal Movement and Hezbollah rejected his proposal to change the sectarian leadership of the Finance Ministry in a shakeup of four sovereign ministries. The Finance Ministry has been led by a Shiite since 2014.

    A possible breakthrough on the issue was made this week, with Adib holding consultations Thursday with officials from the Amal Movement and Hezbollah.

    Amal Movement mouthpiece NBN channel reported that Adib, former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil and Hussein Khalil presented potential Shiite candidates for the Finance Ministry, adding that more talks would be held between the two sides. Ali Hasan Khalil is a top political adviser to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and Hussein Khalil is a key political aide to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

    Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have both said they are committed to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed road map for the incoming government.

    Macron, who in August organized a UN-backed donor conference for Lebanon following the port blast, has said that he will organize a second donor conference if the new “mission government” rapidly presses through a slew of key reforms contained in his roadmap.

    During Macron’s Sept. 1 visit to Lebanon, Lebanese politicians said they would form a new government within 15 days. That deadline passed more than a week ago, and French officials have repeatedly urged Lebanon’s political groups to work in unison to form a government and tackle the country’s worst ever financial crisis.

    Source: The Daily Star

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