Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has designated Saad Hariri as prime minister to form a new government to tackle the worst crisis since the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.
This will be be the Sunni Muslim politician’s fourth term as prime minister. He resigned last year on October 29 following unprecedented mass anti-government protests.
After he was declared prime minister-designate, Hariri pledged to quickly form a new government of specialists that would enact reforms and stop the country’s economic collapse.
Hariri faces major challenges to navigate Lebanon’s power-sharing politics and agree a cabinet, which must then address a mounting list of woes: a banking crisis, currency crash, rising poverty and crippling state debts.
A new government will also have to contend with a COVID-19 surge and the fallout of the huge August explosion at Beirut port that killed nearly 200 people and caused billions of dollars of damage.
Hariri’s return to office is a setback for protesters who had been demanding change, and see him as a symbol of a political class they blame for the country’s woes.
Thursday’s nomination follows weeks of political wrangling that has delayed a deal on a new government.
Hariri was backed by his own Future legislators, the Shia Amal party, Druze politician Walid Jumblatt’s party and other small blocs.
The Hezbollah group said it was not nominating anyone, but added it would seek to facilitate the process.