BEIRUT: Constitutionally required parliamentary consultations to name a prime minister will be held Monday, after which Mohammad Safadi will be designated, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil told MTV Friday.
Parliamentary “consultations are supposed to start Monday, after which Safadi will be named [premier]. Otherwise, we will go stay [in negotiations] awaiting the agreement on a prime minister to name,” Bassil said.
The Free Patriotic Movement, which Bassil heads, along with the Future Movement, the Amal Movement and Hezbollah agreed Thursday night on naming Safadi.
Safadi, a business tycoon and political mainstay, represented his native Tripoli in Parliament from 2000 till 2018.
He was also a Cabinet minister continuously from 2005 until 2014, holding the Finance, Economy and Trade, and Public Works and Transportation portfolios.
“This stage needs a person who knows the state well. And Safadi has previously taken over several ministries and there are not any corruption suspicions surrounding him. Therefore, I find him to be a very suitable person for this stage,” Bassil said.
The last government collapsed on Oct. 29 amid mass protests demanding the removal of the entire political class, which is seen as corrupt and feckless. Protesters have reacted negatively to news that Safadi would be named prime minister, pointing out that he is a member of the political elite and that there are several questions surrounding his business dealings and time in government. Taking to the streets since Oct. 17, protesters have been demanding the formation of a government of technocrats instead.
Bassil said he supported the participation of technocrats in the upcoming government “but other partners were not excited about it. Therefore, it was agreed that every party is represented by who it chooses,” whether technocrats or politicians.
The FPM leader said Safadi had agreed to lead the government “if his name was approved by political parties in the government.”
Bassil said he expected the new government formation process not to take long “because the main political parties are certain of the need to quickly form a government that would get the country out of” the current situation.
The last Cabinet, headed by Saad Hariri, was only formed after 252 days of political wrangling. At the time, Bassil insisted on having a "blocking third," or 11 ministers in the 30-member Cabinet that can scuttle measures they find unacceptable. He did not mention whether he would make the same demand this time.
Baabda Palace sources told MTV following the release of the interview that the president had not yet set a date for the consultations. The president is Bassil's father-in-law.