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Lebanon’s Hariri says will not form govt. catering to president’s wishes

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri says he will not form a government that simply complies with the wishes of President Michel Aoun, as the cash-strapped Arab country has yet to overcome a persisting political standoff.

“I will not form a government as the team of his Excellency the President wants it, nor any other political faction,” the 51-year-old Hariri told a parliament session on Saturday.

“I will only form the kind of government needed to stop the collapse and prevent the big crash that is threatening the Lebanese," he added.

Hariri, whose country struggles with a deepening economic crisis, was tasked with forming a government for a fourth time in October last year. That was one year after he resigned as prime minister amid mass protests. But he has failed to form a government.

He also claimed that Aoun had told the lawmakers that they had named a premier that he did not want and that he would “not allow to form a government.” Hariri then addressed the legislators and asked them, “So please get me rid of him!”

The small Mediterranean country plunged into a political vacuum in August 2020, when the previous administration, led by former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, resigned following a devastating explosion at the port in Beirut that destroyed swathes of the capital and left more than 200 people dead.

Hariri had visited the Lebanese president multiple times since his designation to form a new government, but the pair has reached no agreement on the make-up of the cabinet to date.

Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades as prices are skyrocketing and more than half of the population is now living below the poverty line.

Since 2019 the financial crisis has slashed almost 90 percent of the value of the Lebanese currency and raised the risk of widespread hunger.

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