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Lebanese businessman Samir Khatib says 'ready to form a govt' following Hariri withdrawal

Hariri withdrew just hours earlier [Instagram]

Date of publication: 27 November, 2019

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Khatib, a prominent contractor said he had been inspired to take on the role after speaking to several people, according to local MTV station.
Lebanon’s Samir Khatib said he was prepared to form a new government, just hours after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for the role of prime minister.

Khatib, a prominent contractor said he had been inspired to take on the role after speaking to several people, according to local MTV station.

"I was approached by different sides since I am close to everyone," Khatib said. "I am ready to form a government and take over the premiership in order to serve the country during these exceptional times,” he added.

However, Hariri's office published a statement in response distancing itself from names circulating for the PM role, noting it would be announced following further consultations.

Hariri had earlier called on President Michel Aoun to urgently hold consultations in parliament to name a new PM, The Daily Star reported, as the official announced his withdrawal.

The outgoing prime minister tendered his government's resignation on 29 October, in response to pressure from the street.

"I am committed to the rule "not myself, but someone else," to form a new government that speaks to the aspirations of the Lebanese people", Hariri said in Tuesday's statement quoted by Lebanese media.

Read more: Nobody knows Lebanon's problems better than its women. It's time you started listening

Lebanon has been gripped since 17 October by unprecedented anti-government protests over a wide variety of issues, including a crumbling economy.

The government stepped down less than two weeks into the nationwide demonstrations, but a new cabinet has not been formed.

Protesters remain defiant this week despite attacks by supporters of Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal on demonstrators and government supporters.

UN human rights experts and Amnesty warned on Tuesday that Lebanese authorities were failing to protect protesters, following attacks on demonstrators by government supporters.

The authorities have "failed to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks by others", said a statement signed by a group of independent rights experts affiliated with the United Nations.

Signatories included Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Michel Forst, special rapporteur on human rights defenders.

"Security forces have reportedly failed to intervene to protect peaceful protesters or arrest perpetrators on at least six occasions," they said.

London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International warned that attacks on protesters could signal a "dangerous escalation".

"The authorities must act immediately to protect protesters and uphold the right to peaceful assembly," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East research head.

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