Future Movement leader and former Prime Minister MP Saad Hariri has been tasked by President Michel Aoun to return to the premiership to head a new cabinet, the National News Agency reported Thursday.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic, Gen. Michel Aoun, honored me by tasking me with the formation of the government, and I accepted this commission with gratitude for His Excellency’s trust, and the trust of the parliamentary colleagues who honored me by nominating me for this national assignment,” Hariri said in remarks from the presidential palace in Baabda.
After thanking outgoing Prime Minister Tammam Salam for the “exceptional effort he undertook in a difficult and sensitive period to protect the unity of the country,” Hariri called for the “quick” formation of a “national unity cabinet” that would, among other things, “work to achieve a [parliamentary] electoral law that secures just representation.”
Following two days of consultations by President Aoun with various political blocs, Hariri secured the endorsement of 112 out of 126 MPs. Notably, Hezbollah declined to grant their support, as did the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Baath Party. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had nonetheless indicated in recent speeches that his party would not object to Hariri’s premiership.
Hariri will now face the challenge of steering the contentious cabinet formation process, which some observers say could take months. In a possible portent of just one of the battles this could entail, Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said Wednesday his party would reject the inclusion of the so-called ‘People-Army-Resistance equation’ in the cabinet policy statement, referring to a phrase seen as legitimizing Hezbollah’s weapons on which the Party of God has previously insisted.