News ID: 232622
Published: 0610 GMT October 11, 2018

Lebanon's oldest paper releases blank edition to protest political deadlock

Lebanon's oldest paper releases blank edition to protest political deadlock

The oldest Lebanese newspaper an-Nahar released a blank edition on Thursday to protest the ongoing political stalemate in the Arab country, where political parties have failed to form a new government.

Five months after the parliamentary elections were held across Lebanon on May 6, Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has failed to form a new government, as political parties have been locked in dispute over the make-up of a future cabinet.

The deadlock, as well as the economic situation in Lebanon, were harshly criticized by an-Nahar which went out to newsstands completely blank, Presstv Reported.

The paper, founded in 1933, published eight blank pages in print and linkless white boxes on its main page online, posting headlines but no news items.

“We waited two years for you to give the people the right to elect their representatives in parliament. And then months more to elect a president. We have been waiting five months for the birth of the cabinet,” an-Nahar’s chief executive Nayla Tueni told a televised news conference.

"People are tired and an-Nahar is tired of writing up your pretexts and repeated empty promises," she said, adding "God knows how long we will wait to see" a decision on a cabinet line-up.

The blank issue aimed to express "our deep moral sense of responsibility as a press institution over the disastrous state of the country", she said.

The political parties' failure to form a new power-sharing government has put a precious $11-billion aid package at risk. If formed, the new government would be able to sign off on billions of dollars in aid pledged at a conference in April, notably to help boost the country's ailing infrastructure.

Hariri said earlier this week that he hoped a government would be formed after President Michel Aoun returned from an overseas trip. Aoun is due back on Friday.

However, there is still no sign of a final consensus over the distribution of ministries.

Political rivalry has led to years of a governmental paralysis in Lebanon, where the country did not produce a state budget from 2005 until last year. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that Lebanon must urgently address its fiscal policy in order to sustain its high levels of public debt.



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