Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

German foreign minister urges Lebanese politicians to act

Heiko Maas says new government urgently needed in Beirut after nominee favoured by Berlin failed to form cabinet

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a session of the German lower house of parliament in Berlin, Germany. Reuters
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a session of the German lower house of parliament in Berlin, Germany. Reuters

Lebanon has to form a new government “with the utmost speed”, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, days after former prime minister Saad Hariri declared he is after the job.

“The parties and political groups have to seek with the utmost speed formation of a new government that can act,” Mr Maas told the pan Arab Asharq Al Awsat newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

France has taken the lead among European powers to help extract Lebanon from an array of economic and political crises after the August 4 explosion in Beirut that killed more than 200 people and became a symbol of the country’s malaise.

But political sources in Berlin say it will be Germany that will be footing a major part of any bill, prompted by fear of another wave of refugees to Europe.

Mr Hariri said last week that he is a possible candidate for prime minister, after the last nominee Mustafa Adib failed to form a cabinet due to a standoff between power-brokers over the finance ministry post.

Mr Adib, who was Lebanon’s ambassador in Berlin before being named prime minister-designate in late August, had the enthusiastic support of France and Germany as he was pushed into the political milieu by Mr Hariri and the rest of the old guard in Lebanon.

“It is very regrettable that the formation of a government in Lebanon headed by Mustafa Adib has resulted in failure,” Mr Maas said, without mentioning Mr Hariri, who is very well connected to the Elysee and has good ties with Berlin.

“Lebanon urgently needs political and economic reforms to meet the legitimate aspirations of its people,” Mr Maas said. “The new government should also work on countering corruption and the mismanagement that has continued for years.”

Updated: October 12, 2020 12:49 PM

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