Hariri speaks during an Iftar at BIEL seaside Pavilion in Beirut, Wednesday, June 6, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Unruffled by the uproar over a presidential decree that seeks to grant citizenship to over 300 people, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri remained upbeat Wednesday about forming a new government to face economic challenges, carry out reforms and fight corruption in the public administration.Hariri also pleaded with rival political parties to come forward with proposals to facilitate the formation of a "national consensus" government in order to send a message to the world that Lebanon deserved to be supported.Thursday marks two weeks since Hariri, who has been prime minister since December 2016 and served his first time from 2009 to 2011, was designated for the third time with an overwhelming parliamentary majority to form a new government. Hariri's speech came as the country was reeling under a widening outcry over the naturalization decree recently signed by Aoun, Hariri and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk that would grant citizenship to 260 Christians and 115 Muslims, rekindling a sensitive issue due to its implications on the country's delicate sectarian balance and demographics.Hariri took responsibility for the Future Movement's weak showing in the May 6 parliamentary elections.Earlier in the day, a key political adviser to Hariri, caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury, struck an upbeat note on the government formation, saying he expected a 30-member Cabinet lineup to be announced after Eid al-Fitr.
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