BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Aoun: Lebanon is in a bad shape

BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun painted a gloomy picture of the Cabinet formation Wednesday, a day after his March 8 ally Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri sounded downbeat on the government formation process.

When asked whether he shared Berri’s bleak outlook on the Cabinet formation which has been delayed since mid-January, Aoun replied: “The country is in a bad shape.”

Aoun, who met with Berri at Parliament, said he had discussed the government formation process with the speaker, but would not give further details.

However, Aoun said he had come to Parliament to take part in a meeting of the administrative and justice committee. The committee was discussing a proposed law to set up a body that would run the country’s security affairs.

“I cannot come to Parliament and not visit Berri,” Aoun said.

Earlier Wednesday, Berri held talks with President Michel Sleiman about the government formation process but left the presidential place without making any statement.

Lebanon has been under a caretaker government since Jan. 12 after Hezbollah-led March 8 ministers resigned from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Cabinet, forcing its collapse. On Jan. 25 March 8 candidate Tripoli MP Najib Mikati was appointed prime minister-designate.

Mikati has been struggling to form a new government for almost four months with many believing the delay centers on a dispute between Aoun and Sleiman over the key Interior Ministry portfolio.

Meanwhile, following their weekly meeting with the Parliament speaker, MPs quoted Berri as saying that the lack of state authority and negligence by officials was encouraging people to build illegally on public property.

Lebanon has seen a recent spike in illegal constructions, particularly in the south of the country.

In the past month, a security crackdown on illegal constructions has sparked fury among residents affected by the steps taken by security forces to curb the illegal practice.

MPs also said Berri had clarified remarks made Tuesday that the speaker felt hopeless and gloomy concerning the Cabinet formation process. Instead, MPs said, Berri had meant to convey that the country, and not he, was in a dismal state.

 
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