Lebanon's Hariri tells President Aoun to find another prime minister

Lebanon's Hariri tells President Aoun to find another prime minister
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned two weeks into Lebanon's anti-government protest movement, said he will not head the next government.
3 min read
26 November, 2019
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he will not stay in his role [Getty]
Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing his candidacy for the role of prime minister.

Hariri also called on President Michel Aoun to urgently hold consultations in parliament to name a new PM, The Daily Star reported.

The outgoing prime minister tendered his government's resignation on 29 October, in response to pressure from the street.

"I am committed to the rule "not myself, but someone else," to form a new government that speaks to the aspirations of the Lebanese people", Hariri said in Tuesday's statement quoted by Lebanese media.

Lebanon has been gripped since 17 October by unprecedented anti-government protests over a wide variety of issues, including a crumbling economy.

The government stepped down less than two weeks into the nationwide demonstrations, but a new cabinet has not been formed.

Protesters remain defiant this week despite attacks by supporters of Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal on demonstrators and government supportings.

Political parties "are trying to instill fear in us as a people, so we don't progress and stay at home", said Dany Ayyash, 21, who was blocking a key road in Beirut's Hamra district.

But "the attack gave us all - at least the ones here right now - a sense of determination", Ayyash said.

At around midnight on Sunday, backers of Hezbollah and Amal attacked demonstrators at a flyover near the capital's main protest camp. 

Brandishing party flags, they hurled stones at demonstrators and taunted them as riot police deployed to contain the violence.

The attackers also ravaged a nearby encampment, tearing down tents and damaging storefronts in their most serious assault on protesters so far.

At least 10 demonstrators were injured, civil defence said.

The UN Security Council has called for all actors to maintain "the peaceful character of the protests by avoiding violence and respecting the right to peaceful assembly in protest".

Political paralysis

Late Monday, hundreds of Hezbollah and Amal supporters rallied in the capital's southern suburbs after a man and woman were killed in a car accident earlier the same day.

A video of the incident showed a car ramming at high speed into a metal barrier before catching on fire, in an incident both parties have blamed on a protester roadblock.

The demonstrators, however, denied any responsibility, publishing a map of their roadblocks on social media.

Political leaders have failed to select a new government nearly a month since Prime Minister Hariri's cabinet resigned under popular pressure.

President Aoun, whose powers include initiating parliamentary consultations to appoint a new premier, said he was open to a government that would include technocrats and representatives of the popular movement - both key demands of the protesters.

But demonstrators say they reject any government that would also include representatives of established political parties. 

Read more: Nobody knows Lebanon's problems better than its women. It's time you started listening

The United States, France, the World Bank, and credit rating agencies have all urged officials to accelerate cabinet formation, warning of a deteriorating economic and political crisis. 

In the latest diplomatic push, senior British Foreign Office official Richard Moore was in Lebanon on Monday to meet top officials and "underline the urgent need to form a government", the British embassy said. 

"The people of Lebanon have been clear in their demand for improved governance, and they should be heard," Moore was quoted as saying. 

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