Saad Hariri chosen as Lebanon's new PM

Saad Hariri chosen as Lebanon’s new PM

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun on Thursday named former premier Saad Hariri to form a new cabinet to lift the country out of crisis after most parliamentary blocs backed his nomination.

Mr Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down almost a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against the political class.

A leading Sunni Muslim politician, Mr Hariri secured enough support in parliamentary talks on Thursday to be named prime minister and try to form a government to tackle the worst crisis since the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.

A tally by Reuters and local media of nominations declared by politicians after consultations with President Michel Aoun showed Mr Hariri had won the backing of 47 parliamentarians, more than the number of MPs yet to formally declare their stance.

Mr Hariri would still face major challenges to navigate Lebanon’s power-sharing politics and agree a cabinet, which must then address a mounting list of woes: a banking crisis, currency crash, rising poverty and crippling state debts.

A new government will also have to contend with a Covid-19 surge and the fallout of the huge August explosion at Beirut port that killed nearly 200 people and caused billions of dollars of damage.

Mr Hariri’s last coalition government was toppled almost exactly a year ago as protests gripped the country, furious at Lebanon’s ruling elite.

Thursday’s nomination follows weeks of political wrangling that has delayed a deal on a new government.

Mr Hariri was backed by his own Future lawmakers, the Shi’ite Amal party, Druze politician Walid Jumblatt’s party and other small blocs.

The Shi’ite group Hezbollah said it was not nominating anyone, but added it would seek to facilitate the process.

“We will contribute to maintain the positive climate,” Mohammed Raad, head of its parliamentary bloc, told reporters at the presidential palace.

 

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