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Lebanese presidency to convene consultations on Monday to pick new PM

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun delivers a speech at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, June 25, 2020.
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun delivers a speech at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, June 25, 2020. © Mohamed Azakir, REUTERS
2 min

The Lebanese presidency will convene consultations with parliamentary blocs on Monday to designate a new prime minister, the presidency said, after the government quit earlier this month following the catastrophic explosion at Beirut port.

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Lebanon's fractious sectarian parties have so far failed to agree on who should lead the next government. President Michel Aoun is required to designate the candidate with the greatest level of support among MPs.

The post of prime minister must go to a Sunni Muslim in the Lebanese sectarian system. It was not immediately clear who would emerge with the biggest support among MPs.

Saad al-Hariri is so far the only serious name floated for the post to replace Hassan Diab, who continues in a caretaker capacity until a new government is agreed. But Hariri said earlier this week he was not a candidate after several major parties said they did not support his return to the job.

The consultations will take place a day before French President Emmanuel Macron visits Beirut as Paris presses Lebanese leaders to take action to save the country from a destabilising financial crisis.

'Civil war'

Macron on Friday warned that Lebanon risks a return to civil war if it is left alone to deal with the crisis that followed the deadly Beirut port explosion this month.

"If we let Lebanon go in the region and if we somehow leave it in the hands of the depravity of regional powers, it will be civil war" as well as "the defeat of what is the very identity of Lebanon," he said.

Macron was speaking as he prepared to head to Lebanon on Monday in a new bid to press its leaders to undertake radical reform in the wake of the explosion this month that left 181 dead.

The Iran-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah and its Shi'ite ally the Amal Movement want Hariri to be prime minister again. But Hezbollah's main Christian ally, the Free Patriotic Movement founded by Aoun, opposes his candidacy.

Groups at the other end of the spectrum, notably the Christian Lebanese Forces Party and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, also do not support Hariri's return to the job.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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