Lebanon’s former PM Hariri declares boycott of elections, stepping away from politics

“I am convinced that there is no room for any positive opportunity for Lebanon in light of Iranian influence, international disarray, national division, sectarianism, and the collapse of the state,” Hariri said

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Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday announced his intent to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections and his decision to step away from the domestic political scene for the time being.

Reading from a prepared statement, a tearful Hariri called on members of his Future Movement political party to follow suit and suspend their participation in politics.

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Recalling his slain father, Rafik Hariri, the three-time premier said he had two objectives after entering the political life: prevent another civil war from breaking out in Lebanon and providing a better life for the Lebanese.

“I succeeded in the first one, but I did not have enough success in the second,” Hariri admitted from his Downtown Beirut residence.

Hariri, who once enjoyed strong ties with the West and the Gulf, saw his image tarnished in recent years after making multiple concessions to Hezbollah and its allies.

He cited reaching agreements to end the violence on May 7, 2008, after Hezbollah fighters took over Beirut. He then visited Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in Damascus after the assassination of his father. Hariri also conceded and endorsed political rival Michel Aoun to become the next president of Lebanon and subsequently agreed to a new electoral law, which saw his party lose significant parliamentary representation.

But Hariri defended his decisions and said he was the sole figure who had admitted his wrongdoings.

“I was the only one who responded to the October Revolution, and I submitted the resignation of my government,” he said, referring to the nationwide anti-government protests that broke out in October 2019.

Hariri’s longtime political ally and Druze politician, Walid Joumblatt, lamented Hariri’s decision. “It is a very sad moment of history to lose a pillar of moderation and independence. It will give the Iranian[s] more of [a] free hand on Lebanon,” he told Al Arabiya English in a written message.

Read more: A hostage in our homeland

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