Lebanon’s PM-designate Hariri steps down as crisis deepens

Published : July 16, 2021 20:53 IST

Hariri is one of the most prominent Sunni Muslim leaders in Lebanon. Photo: Dalati & Nohra/dpa/picture alliance

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri says he will not be able to form a government as a bitter political rivalry continues to keep Lebanon without a government.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on July 15 said he will not be forming a government over "key differences" with President Michel Aoun as the country plunges deeper into turmoil. "I have excused myself from forming the government," Hariri said after a 20-minute meeting with President Michel Aoun. "May God help the country."

The Middle Eastern country has been without a government since October. This period of political crisis has been accompanied by an unprecedented economic meltdown that has seen the free fall of the Lebanese currency, which has nosedived 90% since 2019 against the dollar. Poverty has skyrocketed and the country faces a dire shortage of medicines, fuel and electricity.

However, an intense political rivalry has made finding a new cabinet impossible, dampening hopes of Western help. Western powers, with former colonial authority France at their head, have pledged support only on the condition of a new government being formed and reforms being passed.

In an effort to end the deadlock, Hariri had proposed a 24-member Cabinet to Aoun on July 14, expecting a response from the president by July 15. Aoun's office blamed Hariri for the deadlock, saying he "was not ready to discuss amendments of any kind... (leaving) the door to discussion... closed". With no candidate in place to replace Hariri, one of the most prominent Sunni Muslim leaders in the country, Lebanon’s sectarian-based political system has been thrust into a period of further uncertainty.

see/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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