Lebanon protesters angered by new PM pick

Cheryl Sanders
November 17, 2019

What Happened: Lebanon's major political parties have named Mohammed Safadi, a minister with a number of portfolios over the last 15 years, as their candidate to replace Saad al-Hariri as prime minister, the Daily Star reported November 15.

A consensus emerged late on Thursday in a meeting between Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal and former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, sources told Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV.

Lebanon's political system dictates that the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, the president a Christian and the speaker a Shiite, while parliament seats are divided among different religious sects.

A former lawmaker, Safadi hails from predominantly Sunni Tripoli, a northern city that has some of the highest rates of poverty in Lebanon and has witnessed some of the biggest protests. "His nomination will fail before he even makes a government", one protester said on live TV, according to The Daily Star.

The next government will face huge challenges. Banks have imposed controls on transfers overseas and U.S. dollar withdrawals.

From 2011 - 2014, he was finance minister in Najib Mikati's government.

"Choosing Mohammed Safadi for prime minister proves that the politicians who rule us are in a deep coma, as if they were on another planet", said Jamal Badawi, 60. "Safadi does not meet the aspirations of the popular uprising in Lebanon".

It must win global financial support seen as critical to alleviating the economic crisis, while addressing the challenge posed by the nationwide protest movement that wants to see the old elite gone from power.

Lebanon's almost one-month old protest movement, which first erupted in opposition to a proposed tax on calls made via free phone apps, has grown into a cross-sectarian outcry against everything from perceived state corruption to rampant electricity cuts. On Twitter, commentators denounced him as part of the political class protesters want to push out.

A protest was also planned at Zaytuna Bay, a luxury marina in central Beirut which is run by a company that Safadi chairs and which many say encroaches on public land.

Other reports by iNewsToday