BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon’s former prime minister Saad Hariri (pic below) on Thursday said he was a possible candidate to head a new government to stem the country’s economic collapse after a massive port blast.
French President Emmanuel Macron last month extracted a pledge from all political sides in the former French protectorate to back speedy government formation as part of a roadmap out of the crisis, but efforts so far have failed.
“I am definitely a candidate to head the next government,” Hariri said during a live interview on the MTV television channel.
“I will not close the door on the only hope left for Lebanon to stem this collapse,” he said.
The country is mired in its worst economic crunch in decades, and still reeling from a massive explosion at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital. Lebanese President Michel Aoun is to hold Parliamentary consultations on naming a new premier next Thursday.
Hariri said he was ready to start making phone calls during the coming week “if all political teams still agree on the programme” discussed with Macron.
The former premier stepped down under street pressure last autumn after mass protests erupted demanding the overhaul of a political class accused of being inept and corrupt.
The government that followed, headed by Hassan Diab, resigned in the wake of the huge Beirut blast.
The next premier designate, Mustapha Adib, last month bowed out just weeks after being nominated, after his efforts to hammer out a Cabinet were blocked by the country’s two main Shiite political parties – Hezbollah and Amal – seeking to keep the finance ministry under their control.
Forming a government can drag on for months in multi-confessional Lebanon, where a power-sharing agreement seeks to maintain a fragile balance between all sides.
But Hariri said all political sides had agreed with Macron, who visited Beirut twice in the wake of the blast, to set aside their differences for six months to save the country from further deterioration.