BEIRUT – Lebanon’s prime minister-designate resigned Saturday amid a political impasse over government formation, dealing a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to break a dangerous stalemate in the crisis-hit country.
The announcement by Moustapha Adib nearly a month after he was appointed to the job further delays the prospect of getting the foreign economic assistance needed to rescue the country from collapse. Adib told reporters he was stepping down after it became clear that the kind of Cabinet he wished to form was “bound to fail.”
The French leader has been pressing Lebanese politicians to form a Cabinet made up of non-partisan specialists that can work on enacting urgent reforms to extract Lebanon from a devastating economic and financial crisis worsened by the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut port.
An official in Macron’s office, commenting on Adib’s resignation, described it as “a collective betrayal” by Lebanon's political parties.
“It is indispensable to have a government capable of receiving international aid. France will not abandon Lebanon,” said the official, who was not authorized to be publicly named. Macron's office said he will hold a press conference Sunday to talk about the situation in Lebanon.
Lebanon is in desperate need of financial assistance but France and other international powers have refused to provide aid before serious reforms are made. The crisis is largely blamed on decades of systematic corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling class.
But efforts by the French-supported Adib have hit multiple snags, after the country’s main Shiite groups, Hezbollah and Amal, insisted on retaining hold of the key Finance Ministry. Their insistence emerged after the U.S. administration slapped sanctions on two senior politicians close to Hezbollah, including the ex-finance minister.
The two groups also insisted on naming the Shiite ministers in the new Cabinet and objected to the manner in which Adib was forming the government, without consulting with them.