BEIRUT: Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil criticised Sunni former prime minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday (Oct 13) for putting himself forward to lead a government that would champion a French initiative to resolve the country's deep economic crisis.
Hariri has begun consultations with the president, parliamentary speaker and Lebanese political blocs about forming a government that would implement President Emmanuel Macron's roadmap for reforms and unlock international aid.
He has said his mission was to form a six-month government of technocrats to rapidly carry out the reform plan set out in Macron's initiative.
"We were not aware, and nobody informed us, that President Macron had appointed a high commissioner... to Lebanon, and made a prefect for us to oversee his initiative and the extent of its implementation," Bassil said in a speech to supporters.
"Whoever wants to head a government of technocrats has to be a technocrat himself," said Bassil, who heads Lebanon's biggest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement. A former foreign minister, Bassil is also President Michel Aoun's son-in-law.
Aoun will hold formal consultations on Thursday about nominating a prime minister to form a new government to replace Hassan Diab's cabinet, which resigned two months ago after a powerful explosion damaged much of Beirut and killed 200 people.
Diab's nominated replacement has been unable to form a government after the powerful Shi'ite group Hezbollah and its political allies insisted on nominating the finance minister.
Lebanon is suffering its worst financial collapse since a 1975-1990 civil war. Foreign donors have made clear there will be no fresh aid unless Lebanese leaders launch reforms to tackle graft and improve governance, and engage in IMF negotiations.