Hariri again tasked with forming government in Lebanon

Amid continued economic troubles, former PM Saad Hariri tasked with forming a new government - his fourth in the last decade.

Ben Ariel ,

Saad Hariri
Saad Hariri
Reuters

Lebanon's President on Thursday tasked former Prime Minister Saad Hariri with forming a new government, The Associated Press reported.

Hariri returns to power a year after he was toppled amid nationwide protests against widespread corruption and a flunking economy.

President Michel Aoun designated Hariri after a slight majority vote by lawmakers, securing the return of an old name to lead the country desperate for change.

Hariri now faces a more impoverished Lebanon, devastated by a massive August explosion that defaced Beirut, but also a more determined opposition.

He pledged to quickly form a new government -- his fourth in the last decade -- to halt the economic collapse, calling it the "last and only" opportunity, according to AP.

Hariri previously resigned last year following a wave of protests, which at times turned violent.

He was then replaced by Hassan Diab, but Diab and his entire cabinet resigned in August following the massive explosion in Beirut which killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital.

Following the resignation of Diab’s cabinet, Mustapha Adib was designated as Prime Minister, but he himself bowed out just weeks after being nominated, after his efforts to hammer out a cabinet were blocked by the country's two main Shiite political parties -- Hezbollah and Amal -- seeking to keep the finance ministry under their control.

In the past year, Lebanon's currency has collapsed, losing nearly 80% of its value while prices, unemployment and inflation soared. Lebanese have been unable to access their savings, as banks imposed informal capital controls, fearing a run on deposits.

Hariri vowed to stop the economic, social and security meltdown and rebuild after the port explosion, saying, "I say to Lebanese who are suffering hardship to the point of despair, I am determined to keep my promise."

He pledged a government of non-partisan specialists tasked with implementing reforms according to a French initiative, endorsed by mainstream Lebanese politicians.

Hariri is the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who took over his slain father's mantle in 2005 and enjoys good relations with the West. He secured 65 votes out of 120 lawmakers polled on Thursday by Aoun amid sharp divisions over the shape of the future Cabinet.

While Hezbollah supports Hariri's designation, it refrained from voting for him to avoid appearing to be breaking ranks with its ally, Aoun's party, according to AP. Hariri got backing from the other Shiite group, Amal, as well as a small Christian party and independents.



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