BEIRUT: Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri accused Wednesday the Free Patriotic Movement of obstructing the formation of the Cabinet, a day after major protests rocked Beirut's commercial district.
"There are parties like the FPM that are actively hindering the government," he said, seemingly accusing them of clinging to the Energy Ministry. He blasted the ministry for wasting "47 billion dollars" while throwing his support behind embattled central bank governor Riad Salameh.
"If the electricity sector was fixed, we wouldn't be in this mess now," Hariri said.
"We [Future Movement] have not held the Energy Ministry since the days of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri,' he said.
On Tuesday, Lebanese security forces arrested 59 people after clashes erupted overnight outside the central bank in Hamra, as angry demonstrators took out their anger on commercial banks.
The FPM, along with its Shiite allies Hezbollah and Amal, have yet to come to terms with Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab almost a month after his nomination.
Diab, sources say, is hellbent of preserving his initial stance of forming a Cabinet made up mostly of technocrats, meeting resistance mainly from Speaker and Amal leader Nabih Berri.
Despite the urgency of the situation, with Lebanon facing its worst economic troubles in decades, officials have continued their tug and pull over the allocation of ministries.
The local currency has lost over 60% of its value — dropping for the first time in nearly three decades from a fixed rate of 1,507 pounds to the dollar to 2,400 in few months.
Meanwhile, banks have implemented informal capital controls, limiting withdrawals to staggering numbers. This has raised concerns over bank deposits' security moving forward.
MP Ali Bazzi, citing Berri, said on Wednesday an action plan is being looked into to "secure the preservation of people's rights" and that of small depositors and the deposits of expatriates would be protected.
Berri also called for Parliament to convene on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 to discuss and endorse the draft 2020 state budget.
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