Lebanon's Hariri to meet parties over French plan
Beirut (AFP) –
Lebanon's Saad Hariri, a former prime minister seeking a new term, said Monday he would meet all key parties to survey their commitment to a French rescue plan.
The country is bankrupt, but the ruling elite has so far failed to respond to calls by French President Emmanuel Macron for the rapid formation of an independent government.
Hariri, himself one of Lebanon's hereditary political barons, stepped down from his the position of prime minister a year ago under pressure from a massive protest movement calling for an end to sectarian-based politics.
"I will send a delegation to talk with all the main political blocs, to ensure that they are still fully committed" to Macron's initiative, Hariri said, after meeting President Michel Aoun.
Macron visited Lebanon two days after the August 4 Beirut port explosion that disfigured the city, and returned three weeks later to check on the status of reforms he conditioned international support on.
The roadmap Macron laid out for debt-ridden Lebanon included a two-week deadline for the formation of a tighter and independent government of experts, that would only stay in office a few months.
A new prime minister, Mustapha Adib, was designated -- but he threw in the towel after meeting resistance from the top Shiite parties that sought guarantees they would retain the finance ministry.
Hariri, who has already served two terms as Lebanese premier and has close ties with France, has since resurfaced as the most likely candidate to take over.
"I am convinced that President Macron's initiative is the only and last remaining opportunity for our country to stop the collapse and rebuild Beirut," Hariri said, according to a statement from his office.
Hariri on Thursday said he was a possible candidate to head a new government to stem the country's economic collapse.
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