Lebanon's Hariri says he will not run for prime minister

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - He insists formal consultations to designate new premier take place on Thursday as scheduled

Dec 18, 2019

December 18, 2019

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Lebanon's Saad Hariri said on Wednesday that he was not a candidate for prime minister, ahead of delayed consultations to give the protest-racked country a new government.

The decision leaves Lebanon's political elite with no obvious alternative to lead a Cabinet that must tackle the country's worst economic crisis since the end of its civil war in 1990.

"I announce that I will not be a candidate to form the coming government," said Mr Hariri, the prime minister in the departing government.

He urged that formal consultations to designate a new premier take place on Thursday as scheduled.

"I am heading tomorrow to take part in the consultations on this basis, insisting that they not be delayed for any reason," Mr Hariri said.

Fifty days after nationwide demonstrations against Lebanon's political elite forced him to step down, the caretaker premier had looked like he might try to keep his seat.

But Mr Hariri said his name was drawing too much opposition for him to be a candidate.

"I have strived to meet their demand for a government of experts, which I saw as the only option to address the serious social and economic crisis our country faces," he said.

Lebanon's economy has been sliding towards default in recent weeks.

But the main political parties have so far failed to meet calls from protesters and international partners to form a credible Cabinet capable of introducing key reforms.

Several names were floated since Mr Hariri resigned on October 29 but his own eventually came back to the fore.

His withdrawal leaves a major question mark hanging over consultations that have already been delayed twice.

Updated: December 19, 2019 01:50 AM

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