Lebanese cabinet to meet after long hiatus, financial reforms not on agenda
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s caretaker government will hold its first session in more than six months next week but the agenda, seen by Reuters, omits any mention of possible steps towards fulfilling reforms required for an IMF deal to ease the country’s financial crisis.
Lebanon, long hobbled by factional feuding and endemic corruption and mismanagement, is in the fourth year of an economic meltdown that has gone largely unaddressed, leaving four in five people poor according to the United Nations.
The agenda of the Dec. 5 cabinet session contains a number of pressing health, educational and other matters, but nothing to do with decisions related to financial restructuring required for a $3 billion International Monetary Fund deal.
The government went into caretaker mode after May elections but, more than six months later, politicians have failed to agree on the shape of a new cabinet despite tasking billionaire tycoon Najib Mikati to form one in June.
Given its caretaker status, the cabinet lacks full constitutional decision-making powers.
In a further complication, there has been no president since the end of October, when Michel Aoun’s six-year term expired.
The signature of a head of state is required to install any new government, but fractious political parties divided along sectarian lines have found no consensus on any candidate – a process that often takes many months.
(Reporting by Timour Azhari; Editing by Mark Heinrich)