Lebanon's Deputy Speaker Ferzli gives first nomination for Diab as PM

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Lebanon's Deputy Parliament Speaker Elie Ferzli, an ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, said on Thursday he had nominated former minister Hassan Diab as prime minister, indicating the Shia group and its allies had agreed on him for the position.

President Michel Aoun is due to hold formal consultations with Lebanon's 128 lawmakers on their choice for prime minister throughout the day, and must designate the candidate with the greatest support.

Diab emerged as a candidate for the position at the last minute when outgoing Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri withdrew his candidacy for a job that must be filled by a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon's sectarian system.

As things stood on Thursday morning, Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal, in addition to Hezbollah's biggest Christian ally, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), will all nominate Diab, three senior sources familiar with each group's position said.

With Hezbollah and its political allies holding more than 70 of the seats in parliament, Diab should emerge with the largest amount of support.

Hariri's Future Movement will not nominate any candidate for the post of prime minister, Lebanese television station al-Jadeed reported.

Hariri resigned on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against a ruling elite accused of overseeing rampant state corruption.

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