Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

Beirut: Three-time Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri was named to the post for a fourth time Thursday and immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan.

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Hariri said he would “form a cabinet of non-politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap”. “I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out and this is the only and last chance facing our country,” he added.

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President Michel Aoun named Hariri to form a new cabinet to lift the country out of crisis after most parliamentary blocs backed his nomination.

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Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down almost a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against the political class. “The president summoned… Saad al-Deen al-Hariri to task him with forming a government,” a spokesman for the presidency said.

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Hariri was backed by a majority of 65 lawmakers, while 53 abstained.

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Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades and still reeling from a devastating port blast that killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of Beirut in August.

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Aoun warned Wednesday that the new prime minister, the third in a year, would have to spearhead reforms and battle corruption.

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A relatively unknown diplomat, Mustapha Adib, had been nominated in late August following the resignation of his predecessor Hassan Diab’s government in the aftermath of the deadly port blast.

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Adib had vowed to form a cabinet of experts, in line with conditions set by French President Emmanuel Macron to help rescue the corruption-ridden country from its worst ever economic crisis.

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He faced resistance from some of the main parties however and threw in the towel nearly a month later, leaving Lebanon rudderless to face soaring poverty and the aftermath of its worst peacetime disaster.

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