BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanon’s largest Christian political party says it will not back the nomination of former prime minister Saad al-Hariri to lead a government to tackle a deep economic crisis.
Hariri, who quit as prime minister last October in the face of nationwide protests, has said he is ready to lead a government. But Hariri has failed to win backing from the two main Christian parties - the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Lebanese Forces.
Parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister were due to be held last Thursday, but President Michel Aoun postponed the discussions after receiving requests for a delay from some parliamentary blocs.
The FPM, which is led by Aoun’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil, said it would not back a political figure such as Hariri. As a result, the party’s political council "decided unanimously not to nominate... Hariri to lead the government”, a statement said, adding that Aoun’s week-long postponement would not lead the party to reconsider its position.
Meanwhile, the leaders of Maronite and Orthodox Christian churches urged Lebanese leaders on Sunday to stop delaying talks on forming a government in sermons in which they blamed them for the country’s financial crisis and political deadlock.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, was speaking a day after demonstrators marched through Beirut to mark the first anniversary of a protest movement which erupted last October against mismanagement.
In the year since, Lebanon’s problems have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and a devastating explosion in Beirut in August that left nearly 200 people dead and thousands injured.
The head of the Shia Amal party and parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said he was optimistic next week would bring reassuring news for Lebanese in terms of government formation.
"We will see movement starting Monday,” he was quoted by NBN television as saying, without elaborating.