Lebanon President Appoints Hariri as PM-Designate

Cheryl Sanders
October 23, 2020

Hariri vowed Thursday to quickly form a new Cabinet of nonpartisan specialists.

Parliamentary consultations of the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, are scheduled for today, in which the appointment of Saad Hariri, who resigned as a result of a popular rebellion initiated on October 17, 2019, is nearly certain. He resigned nearly exactly a year ago amid nationwide protests against government corruption and mismanagement, along with a faltering economy.

Hariri arrived at the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut, to meet with the President of the Republic, immediately after the presidential announcement. Lebanese have been unable to access their savings, as banks imposed informal capital controls fearing a run on deposits.

Georges Adwan from the Lebanese Forces Party, the second biggest Christian bloc in the parliament, which also did not nominate Hariri, spoke more cautiously: "Has this political class that took people hostage learned that they can not continue in this way?"

Hariri promised to form a government of non-partisan experts to implement economic and political reforms outlined in a initiative proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit in September, after the country which is going through a deep economic crisis was hit by a deadly explosion at Beirut port on August 4. The blast defaced the capital, killing almost 200 people, and injured over 6,000.

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.

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

He said his bloc expected Hariri to form a government that represents political parties, even if it included technocrats.

"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.

The process can take months in Lebanon, where consensus between most of its top political groups is required for major decisions. "Will the one who is entrusted with the nomination and formation commit to addressing the strongholds of corruption and launch the reform workshop?" The Hariri supporters moved to the epicenter of the 2019 protests and set fire to a large fist erected there that has come to symbolize the uprising against the old political class.

Other reports by iNewsToday