Lebanon's Hariri Named New PM, Wins Speaker's Support

تم نشره في Thu 3 November / Nov 2016. 01:00 AM
  • Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri gestures as he walks into the parliament building, during the presidential elections in parliament, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 31, 2016. – (REUTERS)

BEIRUT — Lebanon's president asked Sunni leader Saad Hariri to form a new government on Thursday, after he won the support of a majority of MPs including the influential parliament speaker who said he would cooperate with efforts to set up the new cabinet.

Hariri's nomination is part of a political deal that resulted in the election of Christian leader Michel Aoun, a close ally of the Iran-backed group Hezbollah, as head of state on Monday, ending a 2-1/2 year long presidential vacuum.

A big concession on the part of Hariri, the deal has underscored Hezbollah's dominant position in Lebanon and the diminished role of Hariri's main regional backer, Saudi Arabia, which appears more focused on confronting Iranian influence elsewhere in the region.

The quick formation of a new administration with cross-party support will help revive government in a country where political conflict has paralyzed decision-making, economic development and basic services, and raised fears for its stability.

The central bank governor said Aoun's election and the formation of a government would boost confidence in the economy and attract foreign aid: Lebanon is hosting some 1.5 million refugees from the war in neighbouring Syria.

Hariri, 46, said he aimed for the quick formation of a government of "national accord".

Speaking at the presidency, he said "we owe it to the Lebanese to start working as soon as possible to protect our country from the flames burning around it, to reinforce its immunity in the face of terrorism".

Lebanon has been buffeted by instability from the war in neighbouring Syria, where Hezbollah is fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Jihadists have mounted attacks in Lebanon targeting Shi'ite areas and the army.

Underscoring Hezbollah's continued mistrust of Hariri, who remains critical of its role in Syria, the group did not name him as prime minister, though it is expected to take part in his cabinet.