January 26, 2019 / 10:13 PM / in 5 months

Hezbollah says two obstacles remain for Lebanon government

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah said on Saturday that two obstacles remain before the formation of a new Lebanese government after months of political jostling, but there is “an extraordinary effort” to resolve them.

Lebanon’s rival parties have been negotiating to form a new government since a May 6 election, adding to concerns of a looming crisis for the country’s heavily indebted, stagnant economy.

“The two obstacles still exist, but during the past few days and last night and today an extraordinary effort was made and there is an effort to find a solution,” said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in an interview on al-Mayadeen TV.

“Will it reach a conclusion or not? This needs a prayer,” he added.

This week Prime Minister designate Saad al-Hariri said after meeting other senior political figures that matters were “positively crystallizing” and he hoped to resolve the issue next week.

The heavily armed Hezbollah is Lebanon’s most powerful political force. The most recent snag in government formation talks has been the difficulty of finding a Cabinet place for a group of six Sunni members of parliament who Hezbollah supports.

Hezbollah was part of the previous government under Hariri. He has been tasked with forming another coalition government and the existing Cabinet has continued to operate in a caretaker capacity.

The credit ratings agency Moody’s this week downgraded Lebanon’s sovereign debt, citing the uncertain movement toward forming a government, and Lebanese bonds have suffered in recent weeks.

Lebanon is one of the world’s most indebted countries and its finance minister has warned it is already in an economic crisis, which has started to turn into a financial crisis and which he hopes will not become a monetary crisis.

Reporting By Angus McDowall

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