France backs Saad Hariri’s proposal to end political deadlock

France has backed a proposal made by Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s former prime minister, to end a deadlock preventing the formation of a cabinet to lead the nation out of its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, AFP reports.

Paris has been pressing Lebanese politicians to form a government quickly but the process hit a logjam over a demand by Lebanon’s two main Shia parties that they name several ministers, including the finance minister.

Hariri proposed in a statement on Tuesday that prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s system of power-sharing, name an “independent” Shia candidate to the finance portfolio.

It was not immediately clear whether the two main Shia groups, Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal Movement, would back Hariri’s idea. Pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar was critical of the proposal.

The French Foreign Ministry welcomed on Wednesday the “courageous declaration” by Hariri. “This declaration represents an opening and all parties should understand its importance so that a government of mission can now be established,” it said.

France had said on Tuesday Lebanon risked collapse if politicians did not form a cabinet quickly after they missed a mid-September deadline agreed with Paris.