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Saad Hariri set to continue as Lebanon prime minister

Hariri looks set to continue as Lebanon's premier [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 May, 2018

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Outgoing Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to retain his post, as the country forms a new government.

Lebanon's president began consultations with leading MPs to name the country's next prime minister, following this month's parliamentary elections held last month that saw a big blow for the current premier Saad Hariri.

President Michel Aoun's decision comes amid increasing pressures by the US and its Arab allies on the militant Hizballah group, notorious for its alliance with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Iran.

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri is widely expected to keep the post and Aoun began the consultations by first meeting him.

By noon, many of the blocs - including the two largest in parliament - named Hariri as their favorite.

Hizballah, which has 13 seats in the 128-member legislature, did not name its own candidate for the premiership, as it has done in the past.

It signaled that it was likely to go along with Hariri's re-appointment despite tense relations between the Iran-allied Shia group and the Saudi-backed Hariri.

A UN-backed tribunal has indicted five Hizballah members in relation to the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hizballah denies the charges.

Hariri is supported by the largest blocs in parliament and will most likely work on forming a national unity cabinet, similar to the one he's been heading since 2016.

Since the morning, legislators have been going in one after another to meet Aoun, who will later in the day again formally summon Hariri and ask him to form a new cabinet.

The consultations came a day after parliament elected Nabih Berri as its speaker, a post he has held since 1992.

A wave of sanctions by the US and its Arab allies has targeted Hizballah, which made gains in this month's balloting and which says it wants to play a bigger role in Lebanon's new government. Those demands could complicate Hariri's mission in the coming weeks.

 

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