Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Image Credit: REUTERS

Abu Dhabi: The hashtag “#We’ll go to hell” went viral on Twitter in Lebanon on Monday, after President Michel Aoun warned the country would going “to hell” if a new government was not formed.

Aoun told a televised press conference agreeing a new government could need a miracle after differences hardened between rival factions.

He underlined the severe challenges facing French efforts to get Lebanon’s fractious leaders to form a new government and rescue the country from financial meltdown.

The crisis, exacerbated by the devastating August explosion at Beirut port, marks the worst threat to Lebanon’s stability since the 1975-90 civil war. A deadline agreed with Paris for forming the government passed last week.

The process hit a logjam over the demand of Lebanon’s two dominant Shi’ite parties, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement, to name Shi’ite ministers including the finance minister.

Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, said his proposals for compromise had not been accepted. He depicted the problem as a standoff between the Shi’ite parties on the one hand and Sunni Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib along with former prime ministers who support him on the other.

When asked where Lebanon was headed if there was no agreement, Aoun said: “Of course, to hell”.

Asked by reporters if his comments meant there was no hope of a new government, he said: “No, there might be a miracle”.

“We are today facing a government formation crisis which should not have happened because the events that await Lebanon do not allow a minute to be wasted,” said the president, a Maronite Christian under the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.

Aoun said the premier did not want to consult parliamentary blocs, which should not be excluded. At the same time, he added, it was not permissible for one party to impose ministers and the constitution did not allocate any ministry to any specific sect.

“With the hardening of positions there does not appear to be any solution on the horizon because all the proposed solutions amount to a ‘victor and a vanquished’,” he said.

Immediately after the press conference ended, Lebanese Twitter users launched the hashtag with thousands of angry, sarcastic and critical comments about the Lebanese situation and the ruling elite.

Nicole Saba, a Lebanese singer and actress, tweeted, “We did not say anything, you said it #We’ll go to hell.”

Another Lebanese, Jad Shahrour, said, “The presidency of the republic has to come out on the media with an explanation about the response of His Excellency the President, # We are going to hell, and correct the information and amend it to we are in # Hell as we could not be more corrupt.

Rihab Daher, a Lebanese woman, asked: “Your Excellency are you going with us or staying in the palace?”