BEIRUT: The main political parties in Lebanon Thursday night agreed on naming former finance minister Mohamad Safadi to head the next government, three senior sources said.
"The blocs of Hezbollah, Free Patriotic Movement, Future Movement and Amal Movement agreed on naming Safadi as prime minister," one source told The Daily Star in a text message.
The agreement on 75-year-old Safadi comes after a meeting Thursday evening between caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri and top political aides to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
A statement from the presidency must be issued calling for binding parliamentary consultations in order for parliamentary blocs to nominate their choice for prime minister. After this, the prime minister-designate works to form a new government.
For nearly one month, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have been in the streets protesting against rampant corruption and the current ruling elite. The protests forced Hariri to step down from his post, which led to the collapse of his government. Protesters continue to demand the formation of a technocratic government made up of experts and independent members.
However, local media reported that protesters began rallying around Safadi's Tripoli residence shortly after the news broke.
Shortly after the news circulated, sources close to Safadi told MTV Lebanon that "naming a prime minister takes place during binding parliamentary consultations in order to respect the Constitution and post of the prime minister." The sources said that any government needed to suffice the demands of the people.
The Jal al-Dib highway was blocked by protesters at around 1:30 a.m., after more than an hour of intermittent skirmishes with the Lebanese Army. The Army deployed multiple trucks filled with soldiers to prevent the blocking of the highway.
One man, who attempted to block the road with his car, was dragged out of his car and thrown to the ground before a soldier drove the car to the side of the road.
Protesters voiced their rejection of Safadi as the next premier. "He is notorious for being corrupt. His nomination will fail before he even makes a government," one protester said on live TV.
The Army finally withdrew and stood to the side of the blocked highway.
Safadi's wife, Violette, is a minister in the current caretaker Cabinet.
He ran for the parliamentary elections in 2009 on Hariri’s electoral list in Tripoli and won the Tripoli seat in Parliament along with former Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Mikati was nominated by the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance to form a new Cabinet to replace Hariri’s government after March 8 ministers resigned, forcing its collapse.
Safadi was the finance minister in Mikati's government from 2011-2014.