Saad al-Hariri Renamed Lebanon PM A Year After Stepping Down Amid Protests.
Beirut: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun designated Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri as prime minister on Thursday to form a new government to tackle the worst crisis since the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.
Hariri won the backing of a majority of parliamentarians in consultations with Aoun. He faces major challenges to navigate Lebanon’s power-sharing politics and agree a cabinet, which must then address a mounting list of woes: a banking crisis, currency crash, rising poverty and crippling state debts.
A new government will also have to contend with a COVID-19 surge and the fallout of the huge August explosion at Beirut port that killed nearly 200 people and caused billions of dollars of damage.
he return of Hariri, the son of the slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri, had increasingly been seen as inevitable as the country withered under its former leader Hassan Diab, who made no headway in tackling the crises and resigned after the port blast. His replacement, Mustapha Adib, quit before naming a government after disputes over which sect were allocated key cabinet portfolios.
Hariri will face the same challenges that led him to quit his post in October 2019, in the days after popular protests swept the country’s towns and cities. The demonstrations were sparked by the introduction of state measures to recoup revenues – moves that were rejected by a restive Lebanese population.
Since then, economic conditions have worsened significantly, with Lebanon unable to pay its huge global debts and its fast dwindling central bank reserves leading to shortages of essential goods such as fuel, wheat and medicine. The currency has lost 80% of its value and hyperinflation has led to rising food insecurity and informal capital controls, imposed by banks fearing a run on dwindling deposits.