Lebanon News

Hariri calls upon country to unite, defeat sectarianism

Hariri leaves the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Dec. 19, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for the defeat of sectarianism Thursday night, hours after Hassan Diab was nominated to head a new government.

“We must all come together because of the economic and social situation and listen to what the [protesters] are saying,” Hariri said, adding that the two-month-old uprising had taught him “many things.”

Speaking to local TV channel MTV, he admitted that his efforts to get the country back on track had “not met the demands of the people” and that the authorities had “failed ... to offer anything to the citizens.”

“We must move forward, and the way we can exit the crisis is with a government of experts,” Hariri said.

“Unfortunately, everyone wants to work with sectarianism in the background. Thank God there are young people in the streets screaming and saying, enough of sectarianism.”

Turning to Thursday’s binding consultations, in which Hassan Diab received the support of a parliamentary majority to become prime minister-designate, Hariri said that he would accept this result.

Hariri also expressed his “surprise” at the decision by the Lebanese Forces not to name him.

As for Lebanon's next government, Hariri said: “It is not me who will form the government, but I am not comfortable because I fear for the country.”

Hariri did not endorse Diab, stripping the prime minister-designate of vital Sunni support.

This has raised fears of a government tilted in favour of the Shiite parties Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, and their Christian ally the Free Patriotic Movement. Observers believe that such a situation could heighten sectarian tensions and frustrate efforts to secure the international aid necessary to rescue Lebanon from economic collapse.

Diab will visit Hariri at his Downtown Beirut residence at 12:30 on Friday.

 

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