Lebanon: PM-Designate Saad Hariri Resigns As Crisis Escalates
Lebanon Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stepped down on Thursday after failing to form a government over the past eight months.
Hariri resigned following a brief meeting with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace.
“I withdrew from forming the government,” he told reporters. “Aoun demanded some amendments, which he considered essential, and said we will not be able to reach an understanding with each other… And may God save this country.”
Following Hariri’s resignation, the Lebanese pound hit a new all-time low exceeding 21,000 to the US dollar.
Hariri reportedly will talk about failed government-formation efforts in a television interview later Thursday. His office declined to comment to Al Jazeera.
The political deadlock has persisted since Hariri’s reappointment last October, despite diplomatic pressure from France, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The European Union has threatened to implement sanctions on Lebanese officials.
Hariri proposed on Wednesday a 24-minister government, which according to local media gave Aoun eight ministers, including the defense and foreign ministries.
Hariri has been at odds with Aoun over the size and distribution of a new government. Aoun has accused Hariri’s proposal of lacking Christian representation and dismissing the country’s sectarian-based power-sharing system, while Hariri has accused Aoun of wanting too large of a share in the government.
After resigning in October 2019 following countrywide anti-government protests, Hariri was reappointed a year later, vowing to put together a government that would enact economic reforms.
Since late 2019, Lebanon has struggled with an economic crisis that has pushed more than half its population into poverty and devalued its local currency by about 90 percent.
The international community has urged Lebanese officials to settle political differences and put together a government that would enact economic reforms to unlock billions of dollars in aid and make the economy viable again.