Workers’ Union of Lebanon calls for general strike as political authorities remain deadlocked over government formation

BEIRUT — Lebanon remains in the grips of severe political and economic crises due to the intransigence of political parties to find a common formula for a government that will get the country back on track. Exhausted by the political standstill, the Workers’ Union of Lebanon announced a general strike in various regions of the country on Thursday.

“The Lebanese people are being killed without bullets,” said Union President Bechara Asmar, referring to the devastating economic crisis that has made daily life a struggle for most Lebanese.

As for the participants and those in solidarity with the strike, several unions have expressed their willingness to commit and participate. Ironically, and to public amazement and ridicule, parties from the Lebanese establishment have also shown their willingness to participate. Some of the establishment parties calling for involvement in the strike are the Free Patriotic Movement, the Future Movement, the Amal Movement, and the Progressive Socialist Party.

Activists believe that the establishment parties are merely trying to absolve themselves of responsibility for corruption and political and economic crises through their “involvement” in the general strike.

These recent developments have done little to change the approach of the two major authorities in the country, namely the Lebanese Presidency and the Lebanese Parliament. President Michel Aoun and Parliament Spokesperson Nabih Berri exchanged accusations about the formation of a new government, with Berri issuing a statement accusing Aoun of exploiting the constitution for his personal gain and monopolizing the appointment of ministers. The decision to appoint Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and to discuss with him the appointment of ministers is the prerogative of Parliament and not that of the Presidency, said Berri.

For his part, President Aoun responded by saying that Berri’s style of communication is unusual in its political form and content and added that it is clear his goal is to disrupt the President’s role in forming the executive authority and monitoring the work with the legislative authority. Berri is seeking to exclude him from assuming the responsibilities that the constitution placed on him, claims Aoun, who denounced and denied the charges leveled against regarding the appointment of ministers.

The question remains, are the two sides seeking to achieve their personal ends? Or do they seek to serve foreign political agendas? In both cases, the result is the same, which is to obstruct the formation of the government and push Lebanon further into the abyss.