BEIRUT: Future Movement leader Saad Hariri will retain his post as Lebanon’s premier, after rallying 111 votes out of 128 from lawmakers across the political spectrum.
“It is an honor that President Michel Aoun has designated me to swiftly form a new national unity cabinet that will continue its objectives of tackling the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as a set list of reforms on both the societal and economic level,” Hariri said during his speech from the Baabda Palace.
Aoun issued a decree Thursday designating the caretaker PM as the new premier, following a day of binding parliamentary consultations. After the announcement, Hariri said he will immediately begin working to form a national unity government.
"After discussing with Speaker Nabih Berri... the president has summoned Hariri to form a government," a statement from the presidency read.
The newly designated prime minister said the government will also have to continue abiding by Lebanon’s policy of dissociation from regional conflicts and maintaining good relations with other nations.
Speaker Nabih Berri spoke before Hariri and urged for a swift formation of a national unity Cabinet.
The Future Movement head received support from political factions across the board, excluding a numbered few who chose to abstain from supporting anyone, which were Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc, along with MPs Oussama Saad, Jamil El Sayyed, Paula Yaacoubian, and Jihad Samad.
Hezbollah, which has 13 seats in the 128-member legislature, did not name its own candidate for the premiership as it has done in the past; signaling it will likely go along with Hariri's re-appointment despite tense relations between the Iran-allied Shiite group and the Western-backed Hariri.
"We have confirmed our readiness to take part in the next government and to deal positively with whoever is named by the majority," Mohammed Raad, who heads Hezbollah's bloc in parliament, said after meeting Aoun.
The Baabda Palace witnessed a flurry of newly-elected lawmakers visiting Aoun for parliamentary consultations in order to designate a new prime minister
Following Hariri’s early morning meeting with Aoun, he had told reporters that he leaves the choice to his Future Movement parliamentary bloc; with MP Bahia Hariri reiterated the bloc’s support for their leader, telling reporters that “we support Hariri while hoping that more women take part in the formation of a new government.”
Former prime ministers and current MPs Tammam Salam and Najib Mikati also confirmed their support for Hariri, following their consultations, with Salam labeling Hariri as a “promising candidate.”
Even the Kataeb Party's three-member bloc notably chose Hariri, during its afternoon consultation, despite recent tensions between the Future leader and Kataeb head Sami Gemayel, who wished the prime minister-designate "all the best."
Free Patriotic Movement President Gebran Bassil announced that the FPM’s parliamentary bloc also backs Hariri. Also, newly elected Deputy Parliament Speaker Elie Ferzli met with Aoun earlier in the day to voice his support for the current caretaker PM.
The consultations came merely 24 hours after parliament elected Nabih Berri as its speaker, a post he has held since 1992; the swift pace of these decisions highlights the level of consensus between the country’s political factions, as well as its urgency to form a national unity cabinet, in hopes of avoiding political strife.
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