The Prime Minister-designate in Lebanon, Saad Hariri, announced that he is resigning to form a new government almost nine months after his appointment, while the country is mired in the worst socioeconomic crisis in its history. Hariri was appointed prime minister in October 2020, but was unable to form a cabinet to launch fundamental reforms to unlock international aid.
The decision came after a meeting of Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister on three occasions, and President Michel Aoun, who demanded changes to the government list that he did not want to make. “I offered him more time to reflect and he told me: ‘We will not be able to agree.’ That is why I excused myself from forming a government, ”justified Hariri.
The president responded in a statement that the prime minister “was not willing to discuss any changes.” Still must now initiate consultations to choose a new head of government. The parties will then begin their traditional, often endless negotiations to form a government in this multi-denominational country in the eastern Mediterranean.
The failure aroused criticism from the United States, the United Nations and France, which puts pressure on the Lebanese leaders before the collapse of the country. The United States called Hariri’s decision “depressing” and urged Lebanese leaders to put aside their political differences.
The abandonment of Hariri “is a new disappointment for the Lebanese people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday, who considered “essential that a government committed and capable of carrying out priority reforms be formed.”
It is «one more dramatic episode of the incapacity of the Lebanese officials to find a way out of the crisis, “French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at the UN.
Lebanon has been without a fully operational government since the resignation of the current cabinet following the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut in August 2020, which left more than 200 people dead and thousands injured. Political paralysis coincides with the worst economic crisis in the countrys, with a historic depreciation of its currency, skyrocketing inflation, massive layoffs and worsening poverty. More than half of the population currently lives under the poverty line and the country, short of foreign exchange, faces a shortage of medicines, fuel, electricity, among others.
According to the World Bank, it may turn into one of the worst financial crises in the world since 1850.