Lebanon's Hariri on course to be named PM again

Elias Hubbard
October 22, 2020

Saad Hariri, who had previously twice assumed the position of the head of Lebanon's council of ministers, was re-elected on Thursday as the country's new Prime Minister in the wake of Mustapha Adib's resignation in late September, the office of President Michel Aoun said. The roadmap by Paris had set out milestones for enacting reforms to unlock foreign aid Lebanon badly needs.

If nominated, Hariri would still face major challenges to navigate Lebanon's fractious power-sharing political landscape and form a cabinet.

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 almost 200 people and caused billions of dollars of damage.

Mr Hariri, who resigned from the post a year ago amid nationwide protests against alleged widespread corruption and a flunking economy, was asked to form the country's next government after he secured enough votes from politicians.

Leading Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri, a former premier, is on course to be designated again at the formal consultations with parliamentary blocs, sources say.

"I say to Lebanese who are suffering hardship to the point of despair, I am determined to keep my promise, to work on stopping the collapse that threatens our economy, society and security and to rebuild what was destroyed by the awful port explosion in Beirut", Hariri said.

The nomination of Hariri, long aligned with Western and Gulf states, follows weeks of political wrangling that has delayed a deal on a new government. The powerful Shi'ite group Hezbollah said it was not nominating anyone, but said it would seek to facilitate the process.

The difference-maker was Hezbollah ally and parliament speaker Nabih Berri and the MPs of his party, the Amal Movement.

With Hariri, as leader of Lebanon's largest Sunni political party at the helm, rivals have argued his Cabinet should include a mix of experts and politicians.

"There will be rapprochement between al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement", Berri added.

Former colonial power France has tried rallying Lebanon's sectarian leaders to pull the nation from crisis, but has been frustrated by the apparent lack of urgency or progress.

Many in Beirut remained skeptical that any change would come.

In a speech on the eve of the consultations, Aoun signalled that he would not stop Hariri from being named prime minister but indicated he wants a bigger role in government formation.

In Beirut's Hamra street, Marwa Hodeib said she felt stuck in a loop.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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