Lebanon’s political leaders trade insults over lack of government formation

Lebanon’s political leaders on Sunday traded insults over the lack of progress in forming a new government, with no sign of a months-long stalemate coming to an end.

MP Gebran Bassil, who heads the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and is also the president’s son-in-law, began a fresh round of tit-for-tat barbs by accusing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri of being “bumptious and of violating the rights and dignity of others.” “The president and the prime minister-designate are equal partners in forming the government, so they should both agree on everything including the form of the government, the number of ministries, distribution of portfolios, and the nominees. The government cannot be formed without the consent of the president,” said Bassil. Hariri was tasked with forming a government last October, but has struggled to assemble a Cabinet. The country’s sectarian power-sharing system means that Lebanon’s president must be a Maronite Christian and the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim. A new government is crucial in carrying out the reforms demanded by the international community in return for much-needed financial aid to help the country with its many crises. But there is increasing rancour between President Michel