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Lebanon: Aoun accuses Hariri of lying about gov't formation

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri (R) and Lebanese President, Michel Aoun (L) are seen during a meeting as Saad al-Hariri presented President Michel Aoun with a line-up of 18 members of cabinet at Baabda Presidential Palace in Beirut, Lebanon on 9 December 2020. [Lebanese Presidency - Anadolu Agency]
Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri (R) and Lebanese President, Michel Aoun (L) are seen during a meeting as Saad al-Hariri presented President Michel Aoun with a line-up of 18 members of cabinet at Baabda Presidential Palace in Beirut, Lebanon on 9 December 2020. [Lebanese Presidency - Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese President Michel Aoun was caught on camera yesterday accusing Prime Minister-delegate Saad Hariri of "lying".

The leaked video, which was caught by local television channel Al Jadeed's camera team, shows Aoun talking to caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab about Hariri's deceit.

"He's lying," Aoun tells Diab. "…There is no [government] formation. He says that we gave him a paper."

The president's allegations came in response to a question by Diab about the status of attempts to form a new government.

Efforts have failed to yield results since Hariri was designated prime minister in October, despite promises of an imminent cabinet formation late last year.

In December, Hariri claimed he had handed President Aoun a complete list of ministers as a cabinet formation proposal.

In the leaked footage, however, Aoun goes on to condemn Hariri, saying: "He has made statements containing lies and now notice how much he has been absent.

"Look at the luck of the Lebanese and yet he has gone to Turkey. I don't know what difference that will make."

READ: Lebanon currency dollar peg 'finished': central bank governor

It remains unclear if the video was leaked intentionally or as a result of a technical error by the palace-accredited photographer.

However, observers told Al-Akhbar newspaper the leak might be part of an effort to push Hariri to resign as prime minister-designate. Adding they expected the video to create more problems for cabinet formation talks and further delay the emergence of a government headed by Hariri.

In response to the attacks, Hariri tweeted a bible verse about "cheating".

Meanwhile, an Arabic language hashtag meaning "Saad the liar" is trending on Lebanese Twitter.

Hariri was designated prime minister in October, almost a year after stepping down under pressure from a mass anti-government protest movement which swept across Lebanon.

The 50-year-old, who is the son of Lebanon's assassinated premier Rafic Hariri, is attempting to return to the post for the third time.

Hariri, who was on holiday abroad over the festive period, was expected to return to Lebanon and facilitate the government formation process in January.

However, Lebanon's prime minister-designate was seen in Turkey on Friday for an unannounced meeting the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two-hour meeting focused on regional security issues and plans to strengthen ties between Lebanon and Turkey, Agence France Presse reported.

READ: Lebanon tightens lockdown, imposes 24-hour curfew, as hospitals buckle

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