Lebanon: Hariri's Fourth Term As PM Met With Skepticism

Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri delivers a statement after the president named him to form a new cabinet at the presidential palace in Baabda east of the capital Beirut

Saad Hariri has been chosen as Lebanon's prime minister once again, despite being ousted by nationwide protests past year, in what is being seen as a desperate bid to stop the country's collapse.

The prime minister-designate, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down nearly a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against economic hardships.

In a speech Thursday after his appointment as prime minister-designate, Hariri said he would move quickly to form a new government "because the time is running out and this is our beloved country's last and only chance". The day before, without naming him explicitly, the president had warned that Mr. Hariri would have the heavy responsibility of fighting corruption and launching reforms.

Mr Hariri's dramatic and controversial return was secured by a slim majority - just 65 of out a total 120 votes - amid deep divisions over the shape of the cabinet he is expected to form. Hariri is insisting on a government of specialists that excludes political parties.

The 50-year-old politician takes the helm with a sense of urgency and more involvement by global leaders who have warned Lebanon is on the verge of collapse.

He received support from his own Future lawmakers, the Shiite Amal group, the largest Sunni bloc, a small Christian party and independents. Lebanon had experienced in October 2019 monster demonstrations denouncing the political class accused of corruption and incompetence, but also an economic collapse which has only worsened since.

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2He was named by Aoun after his predecessor, Hassan Diab, resigned in the wake of the massive explosion at Beirut's port on August 4. Thanks very much! Best regards!

In the year since Mr Hariri was in power the country's economy has continued to nosedive with the currency losing almost 80 per cent of its values, food prices doubling, and soaring unemployment and inflation.

The difference-maker was Hezbollah ally and parliament speaker Nabih Berri and the MPs of his party, the Amal Movement. The global community has said it will not help Lebanon financially before reforms are implemented.

To help address the issues on the table, Hariri's government is expected to resume talks with the IMF for a bailout, although the global community earlier cautioned that it was hesitant to provide support before reforms are implemented.

"Today, I am required to designate (a prime minister) and then participate in the formation of a government", Aoun said. Most observers expect a rocky process.

A group of people, whom the local television station Al-Jadeed identified as Hariri supporters, set fire to a statue, "Fist of the Revolution", and other symbols located in the Martyrs' Square.

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