Lebanese criticize Saad Hariri as new Prime Minister-designate amid low vote-count

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Saad Hariri was appointed on Thursday as Lebanon’s prime minister-designate just a year after his resignation from office during the October 17 uprising.

Hariri received the lowest number of votes approving his appointment in comparison to his former nominations. Neither of the two main Christian parties of the country, Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces and their rivals President Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), nominated Hariri.

Hariri received 64 number of votes for his nomination while 55 members of parliament did not name anyone at the consultations that took place in the presidential palace in Baabda. Hariri's nomination was primary pushed for by his own party Future Movement, the speaker of the parliaments’ Amal Movement, and Sleiman Frangieh’s parliamentary bloc.

In a brief statement following the consultations, Lebanese Forces clarified that they called for the formation of a totally independent government in September 2019 during a national dialogue table in the presidential palace. This was before nationwide protests began in October 2019, as well as before French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative this September.

FPM’s Gibran Bassil also clarified in a short statement that the French initiative explicitly called for the formation of an independent government of experts, and Hariri being the head of a political party debunks that condition, and for that reason the party decided to not nominate him.

Resigned parliamentary member and member of the Kataeb party Elias Hankash re-emphasized his belief that Lebanon’s establishment is merely engaging in a “lousy” cover up, despite the deep reforms needed to deal with the country’s economic collapse and the Beirut port explosion.

“We need an independent government of experts which can deal with the crisis and lead the country towards transparent early elections, after which we resolve other issues such as illegal weapons, and finally we navigate to building a new political model,” Hankash told Al Arabiya English.

“Hariri was toppled down by the uprising just a year ago. As if nothing happened, he wants to return. This will only lead to more cumulative failure, even after his designation, he will not be able to form a government, he has to wait for the US elections and for the new status quo, sadly this is what establishment did, they made Lebanon a struggle square for Iran and the US,” Hankash added.

Multiple factions of the October 17 uprising – the name given to the nationwide protests that have gripped Lebanon sporadically since October 2019 – united to give a statement in which they stressed their commitment to the anti-government uprising.

“We renew our absolute rejection of reconfiguring this illegitimate power that deserves to be described as an occupation, and we stress that the only resolution is the formation of a transitional independent government with exceptional powers, a government of independent figures that enjoy the legitimacy of the people, a government capable of saving the country from inevitable collapse, [that will] recover the stolen money and lay down the criminals are all the criminals against the people from the war until the Beirut explosion in the face of accountability and justice,” said Beirut Madinati, ReLebanon, Li Haqi, Marsad, and Minteshreen in a joint statement.

The statement pledged that the groups will continue to oppose the government and work collectively for a new, civil, democratic social contract to build the state of right and law.

Political activist and law graduate Leen Mneimneh said that probably the only “good” thing about Hariri if they let him form a government, will be the fact that he has good relations with the international community, which Lebanon desperately needs in its current crisis.

“Yet no trust, zero trust to Hariri who showed his continuous failure of leading a country over the years”, she added.

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