Aoun designates Sunni politician Hariri as new Lebanese PM
November 23, 2020
Middle East

Aoun designates Sunni politician Hariri as new Lebanese PM

BEIRUT (LEBANON) – Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday designated Saad al-Hariri as the new prime minister in a bid to form a government to tackle the economic crisis plaguing the country. It is the worst the country has witnessed since the end of the civil war in 1990.

Hariri won the backing of a majority of parliamentarians in consultations with Aoun. He faces major challenges to navigate Lebanon’s power-sharing politics and agree to form 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.

Sunni leader 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.

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.

The FPM led by Aoun’s son-in-law, which has the largest Christian bloc, said it would not nominate Hariri.

The second main Christian party and a staunch Hezbollah opponent, the Lebanese Forces, also declined to name Hariri, saying a veteran politician should not lead a planned cabinet of specialists.

“Has this political class that took people hostage learned that they cannot continue in this way?” MP Georges Adwan said. “It is now facing a test.”

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