Published: 2020-10-22 13:30
Last Updated: 2020-11-07 14:10
Editor: Priyanka Navani
President Michel Aoun Thursday appointed Saad Al Hariri the Prime Minister-designate in Lebanon, ending a whirlwind month of uncertitude in the country.
“I thank my colleagues and those who named me to form a government of specialists, without party partisans, whose task is to implement the economic, financial, and administrative reforms put forth by the French initiative,” said Hariri in Baabda Palace address.
Former ex-PM Saad Al Hariri was largely expected to take the nomination for weeks, a speculation that was confirmed when he secured enough votes for premiership from lawmakers earlier this afternoon.
Hariri had the support of the Future Movement, of which he is head, in addition to the Amal Movement, Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Marada Party, Independent Center bloc, Progressive Socialist Party, and the Tashnag party. Hezbollah and Lebanon’s two prominent Christian parties, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, did not endorse Hariri for premiership.
President Michel Aoun last week delayed PM consultation out of fear that Hariri would not secure enough votes, angering the international community who are demanding a functioning government in Lebanon before any international aid is unlocked.
Now-caretaker PM Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned Aug. 10, four days after the Beirut Port blast, an event that only exacerbated an already crisis-stricken Lebanon. Mustapha Adib was then designated PM weeks later, but stepped down after he failed to form a cabinet.
Hariri now faces the same hurdles as Adib, if not more, given the political divide that marked his return.
The president’s own party, the Free Patriotic Movement, now headed by Gebran Bassil, did not support Hariri’s candidacy, causing some to speculate that Aoun has resentment towards Hariri being designated PM. A speech made by Aoun yesterday wherein he suggested that he would be intimately involved with upcoming cabinet formations with the new PM-designate only exacerbated speculations.
It also reaffirmed to the Lebanese public that a cabinet formation will be no easy feat no matter the designate.
Regardless, some applaud the return of Hariri, who resigned last October under pressure from ongoing anti-authority protests in Lebanon, believing that his contacts and alliances with the West and Gulf countries will help Lebanon escape its worst economic crisis since the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.
Others believe his return only empowers the continuation of sectarianism and corruption, which activists have spent the last year trying to debase.
Wednesday, activists and Hariri supporters faced off in Beirut. Protesters held signs reading “All of them means all of them, Hariri the first of them,” a reference to the popular slogan of anti-authority protests that imply all politicians must be booted out.
Hariri supporters responded by burning symbols of the protests in Beirut's Martyrs Square.
The Lebanese lira rose slightly against the dollar as Hariri's PM designation was announced. For decades, the lira has been pegged to the dollar at the rate of 1.5 thousand, but rose to a near ten thousand exchange rate in recent months as Lebanon sunk futher into crisis. The lira traded at 7.3 Thursday.