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Ex-PM Hariri asked to form new gov’t in crisis-hit Lebanon

Hariri resigned from the post a year ago amid nationwide protests by a public angered by widespread corruption, mismanagement of resources and a flunking economy.

By: AP | Beirut | October 22, 2020 8:15:27 pm
Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, steps down in face of protestsFormer Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon (Justin Gilliland/The New York Times)

Lebanon’s president asked former premier Saad Hariri to form the country’s next government Thursday after he secured enough votes from lawmakers – bringing back an old name to lead the country out of its dire political and economic crises.

Hariri resigned from the post a year ago amid nationwide protests by a public angered by widespread corruption, mismanagement of resources and a flunking economy.

In the year since, Lebanon’s currency sank, losing nearly 80 per cent 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’s return to office has also been rejected by protesters, who see him as a symbol of a political class they blame for the country’s woes.

His successor “a technocrat supported by the Hezbollah group” stepped down after the massive Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut’s port, caused by thousands of potentially explosive chemicals that had been stored in a warehouse there for years.

The blast defaced the capital, killing nearly 200 people, and injured over 6,000. The explosion is seen as further proof of an incompetent political class in charge of governing the small country since the end of its 15-year civil war in 1990.

Hariri won by a simple majority Thursday, securing a total of 65 votes out of 120 lawmakers polled by President Michel Aoun amid sharp divisions over the shape of the Cabinet Hariri is expected to form.

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