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Saad Hariri returns as Prime Minister to form an "expert government"



           


Michel Aoun is counting on Saad Hariri for a fourth term as Prime Minister (photo: Lebanese Presidency).
Michel Aoun is counting on Saad Hariri for a fourth term as Prime Minister (photo: Lebanese Presidency).
LEBANON. Forced to resign by the street almost a year ago on 29 October 2019 but leaving his post as President of the Lebanese Council of Ministers only on 21 January 2020, Saad Hariri (50) has just been charged, on Thursday 22 October 2020, to form the new Lebanese government. President Michel Aoun appointed him after lengthy parliamentary consultations. Sixty-five deputies (out of the 118 present) from his Future party (agreement of 18 deputies), the Amal movement of Nabih Berry (17), the Democratic Meeting of the Druze Walid Jumblat (7), the Marada block of Sleimane Frangié (5), the block of the "Independent Centre" of Nagib Mikati (4), the block of Armenian deputies (3) and other independent or non-solidarity MPs from their group, have spoken out on his name.

The son of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri assassinated in 2005 - whose torch he had taken over with three terms in office (November 2009 to June 2011 then December 2016 to May 2018 and January 2019 to January 2020) - stood as a candidate, Thursday, October 8, 2020, saying he did not want to "close the door to the only hope that it remains for Lebanon to recover".

The former, and now new, Prime Minister (of the Future current) had to give in to a popular movement born on 17 October 2019 demanding the departure of all politicians in power, as they were deemed incompetent and corrupt. Since then, the failures have been obvious. With first those of Mohammad Safadi (mid-November 2019) and Samir Khatib (end of November 2019) who have failed to form a government. In December 2019, Hassan Diab finally appointed a team, but resigned from his post in August 2020. He will be followed by Mustapha Adib who failed to form a government and therefore resigned in September 2020.

Saad Hariri will follow the "French initiative"

Lebanon is sinking deeper and deeper into crisis, a situation reinforced by the economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, the situation of the refugees, and the explosions at the Port of Beirut (some 200 dead and 6,500 injured) which destroyed several districts of the city.

Also of French and Saudi nationality, Saad Hariri will now have to find partners for his new team and has promised to surround himself with experts from non-political parties, in line with the "French initiative" for a "mission government". After Mustapha Adib's failure to set it up, Emmanuel Macron had castigated the Lebanese political system for attracting a detailed response from Hezbollah. The French president had not hesitated to speak of "collective betrayals" and confessed he was "ashamed" of his leaders.

On the eve of the appointment of the new Prime Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian had said that "the longer we delay, the more the boat sinks. There is not much time left to react. If Lebanon doesn't carry out the reforms that need to be carried out, then the country itself risks disintegration". For the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaking before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, "the Lebanese population cannot be a victim of the incuries and imperialism of its leaders."

"Time is running out"


"Je m'adresse aux Libanais qui souffrent des plus grandes difficultés jusqu'au désespoir : Je suis déterminé à respecter mes promesses envers eux, à œuvrer à enrayer l'effondrement qui menace notre économie, notre société et notre sécurité, à reconstruire ce que la terrible explosion du port de Beyrouth a détruit et m'attellerai d'abord à former rapidement un gouvernement car le temps presse et cette opportunité est l'unique et dernière opportunité pour notre pays bien-aimé", clamait Saad Hariri après sa nomination lors d'une allocution télévisée.

Saad Hariri reprend les rênes d'un pays exsangue (troisième pays le plus endetté au monde), en cessation de paiement depuis le 7 mars 2020, et qui a besoin de voter d'urgence une série de réformes pour pouvoir bénéficier de l'aide financière du Fonds monétaire international (FMI). Il faudra cependant avant tout cela, non seulement constituer une équipe de technocrates, mais aussi convaincre les autres partis de ne pas y participer.
 


Frédéric Dubessy


Thursday, October 22nd 2020



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