02:55 GMT01 November 2020
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    BEIRUT (Sputnik) - Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has accused the Shia Islamist political parties, Hezbollah and Amal Movement, of frustrating the French initiative to get the country out of the political and economic crisis by forming a new government.

    "All parties, especially Hezbollah and Amal Movement have revealed their position towards the French initiative, but the financial collapse is what exposed the country and all parties", Hariri said in an interview with the MTV Lebanon broadcaster, stressing that the two parties were behind the initiative's setback.

    According to the former prime minister, the French initiative is still in force, and Lebanon has several paths to follow. One of them is the path of Hezbollah and Amal, which is associated with foreign interests, and the path that implies the interests of Lebanon as paramount.

    Hariri noted that after his resignation at the end of 2019, he set the conditions for his return, which included the formation of a new government, however, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement presidential party, Progressive Socialist Party's President Walid Jumblatt and the head of the pro-US Lebanese Forces opposed the idea.

    Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri (File)
    © AFP 2020 / ANWAR AMRO
    Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri (File)

    On 26 September, Prime Minister Mustapha Adib stepped down, refusing to form a new government. Adib was appointed in late August but failed to present a new cabinet by 14 September, which was a condition, set by French President Emmanuel Macron, for holding a relief conference for Lebanon. The process became more complicated after the United States introduced new unilateral sanctions against two former ministers suspected of having ties with the Hezbollah movement.

    Lebanon is governed by a confessional political system that divvies up governmental positions according to religious and sectarian belonging. This system, which effectively put an end to Lebanon's 15-year civil war in 1990, is now seen as the main driving force of government corruption, tribalism and self-interest.

    Iran-backed militia Hezbollah has been able to coopt this system by accruing unwavering support from its Shia base, which makes up about one-third of the country's population. Through legitimate parliamentary elections and political coalitions — with the likes of current President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement — Hezbollah has become the de-facto rulers of Lebanon, dictating much of the country's political agenda.

    A demonstrator waves the Lebanese flag in front of riot police
    © REUTERS / Goran Tomasevic
    A demonstrator waves the Lebanese flag in front of riot police

    Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Lebanon was faced with a severe economic crisis that prompted thousands of people nationwide to take to the streets and demand reforms. The Lebanese government was reshuffled twice since then, with the latest time coming after a deadly blast in the port of Beirut on 4 August.

    The explosion was so strong that it left entire districts adjacent to the port area destroyed. More than 170 people were killed by the blast and more than 40,000 others were injured. The Lebanese government said the blast was caused by the improper storage of some 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate by the port authorities.

    Emmanuel Macron, Saad Hariri, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Lebanon
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