Saad al-Hariri returns as Lebanese PM, vows to halt collapse

22 Octobre, 2020, 18:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Saad Hariri Becomes New Prime Minister of Lebanon

Hariri needs to win the most support from parliamentarians who were holding a series of meetings with President Michel Aoun, after weeks of political wrangling that has delayed agreement on a new government.

A new government will also have to contend with a COVID-19 surge and the fallout of the 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.

Hariri, Lebanon's leading Sunni Muslim politician, was backed by his own Future lawmakers, Druze politician Walid Jumblatt's party and other small blocs.

The powerful Shiite group Hezbollah implicitly supports Hariri's designation to the post but refrained from voting for him to avoid appearing to be breaking ranks with its ally, Aoun's party.

"We will contribute to maintain the positive climate", Mohammed Raad, head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, told reporters after its MPs met Aoun at the presidential palace. The Free Patriotic Movement, led by Aoun's son-in-law, said a veteran politician could not lead a technocrat government.

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"Saad, don't dream of it", read posters raised by protesters, who see him as a symbol of an entrenched political class they blame for the country's woes. "It is now facing a test".

Former colonial power France sought in August to rally Lebanon's sectarian leaders to tackle the unprecedented crisis, but they have yet to manage the first task: agreeing a new government swiftly.

A former prime minister long aligned with Gulf states, Hariri has presented himself as the candidate to form a cabinet that can kick-start the French roadmap.

He described it as a "last opportunity" to save the country hit by multiple political and financial crises.

The Future Movement leader is now tasked with forming a reformist government that will win the support of the worldwide community and help salvage Lebanon's moribund economy. He is required to choose the candidate with greatest support.

Senior political sources say Hariri should still get a narrow majority of votes from parliament's lawmakers, among which the Iran-backed, Shi'ite Hezbollah and its allies hold a majority.

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