Saad Hariri met with President Aoun for the 18th time since he was designated to form the government last October to iron out their differences over the formation of new government.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has said he has rejected the president’s proposal for forming a government over the allocation of Cabinet seats, dashing hopes for an end to five months of political deadlock and a reversal of the country's financial meltdown.
Politicians have since late 2019 failed to agree a rescue plan to unlock foreign cash which Lebanon desperately needs.
The proposal by President Michel Aoun would give his Free Patriotic movement one-third of the Cabinet seats, said Hariri, saying this is based on sectarian and partisan lines and would give his movement veto power.
Hariri said Aoun had insisted on a blocking majority in government for his political allies.
Aoun sent a list suggesting different scenarios for a cabinet of either 18, 20 or 22 ministers, with names to be filled in, Hariri said.
"This is unacceptable because it is not the job of the prime minister-designate to fill forms from someone else or of the president to form a government."
"Our Constitution clearly says the premier-designate forms the government and proposes names, then discusses them with his excellency the president," he added.
Aoun was "surprised" by comments made by Hariri, a presidency spokesman said on Monday, denying that Aoun had insisted on a blocking majority in a new government.
"Any comments by the prime minister designate that it is not up to the president to form (a cabinet) ... are unacceptable," the spokesman said, after a meeting between the two leaders failed to break months of political deadlock.
Hariri met on Monday with Aoun for the 18th time since he was designated to form the government last October after Prime Minister Mustapha Adib stepped down amid political bickering that prevented a unity government from being established.
On Wednesday, in a televised speech, Aoun gave Hariri the option to either form a government or leave and pave the way for someone who can.
Hariri, for his part, responded by asking Aoun to approve his government formation or to call for early presidential elections.
Aoun was elected in October 2016 for a six-year period which ends in 2022.
The Shite Amal movement, headed by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, called for it to be formed urgently on Monday.
But Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday that even though he would approve a government of technocrats if formed, a cabinet with no politicians would not last long.
Lebanon is facing a severe economic crisis and deterioration in living conditions, with the Lebanese pound losing nearly all its value against the US dollar, trading at over 14,000 to the dollar on Wednesday.
Streets across the country have been blocked by protests and rallies for the past month over the current situation, which is the worst for the Lebanese people since the civil war of 1975-1990.