Officials from all major Lebanese political parties will be meeting on Monday to begin two days of talks designed to form a new coalition government. The previous government collapsed yesterday when the March 8 bloc withdrew.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was visiting the US at the time of the collapse, is now in charge of a caretaker government, and while the talks reflect a desire to see the caretaker period as short as possible, many expect it to last quite awhile.
“Both sides are awaiting the indictment. There will be no government before it,” insisted one politician familiar with the situation. This refers to the UN Tribunal investigating the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri.
The tribunal, and the prospective indictment of a number of Hezbollah officials that are part of the March 8 bloc, were directly responsible for the collapse of the government. The bloc wanted the government to stop backing the tribunal. Both sides remain at odds over the issue, but with the first indictments not expected until March a caretaker government might eventually have to concede the need for a new election.
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