by Naharnet Newsdesk
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday withdrew his nomination for the PM post and stressed that Thursday’s binding parliamentary consultations to pick a new PM “should not be postponed under any excuse.”
“Ever since I tendered my resignation 50 days ago in response to the scream of the Lebanese, I have strenuously sought to fulfill their demand of forming a government of experts, which I believe that it alone can address the dangerous social and economic crisis that our country is facing,” Hariri said in a written statement.
“When I realized that the stances that surfaced over the past few days over my nomination were irreversible, despite my categorical commitment to the formation of a government of experts, I decided to declare that I will not nominate myself for the formation of the new government,” he added.
“I will take part tomorrow in the parliamentary consultations based on this decision, with my insistence that they should not be postponed under any excuse,” Hariri went on to say.
“I have called on al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc to meet tomorrow morning to take its stance on the issue of nominations,” the caretaker PM added.
Hariri resigned on October 29 in the face of unprecedented massive protests against the entire political class, but bitter divisions between the political parties have twice seen parliamentary consultations to name a new premier postponed.
Pressure to form a new government is compounded by the near collapse of the economy, already weakened by years of political deadlock and the impact of the eight-year-old war in neighboring Syria.
Hariri has cast himself as a champion of economic reform held hostage by unwilling coalition partners, but protesters have categorized him as a product of Lebanon’s hereditary politics.
The protests that erupted on October 17 in Lebanon have advocated a more national civic identity to replace the sectarian and nepotist system that defines Lebanese politics.
The names of various potential candidates to replace Hariri have been circulated in recent weeks.
After Hariri’s Wednesday announcement, al-Jadeed TV said the remaining candidates in the race are ex-PM Tammam Salam, former Lebanese ambassador to the U.N. Nawaf Salam and ex-ministers Hassan Diab and Khaled Qabbani.
The move by Hariri comes amid much uncertainty and heightened tensions following recent violence. There were several days of confrontations involving security forces and anti-government protesters as well as supporters of Lebanon’s two main Shiite groups, Hizbullah and AMAL.