Saad Hariri returns as Lebanon PM a year after resigning

Saad Hariri
Saad Hariri

BEIRUT — A year after resigning in the wake of massive nationwide protests, Saad Hariri has returned as the country’s next prime minister on Thursday.

Hariri is now tasked with forming a government that is expected to pull Lebanon out of its deepest crisis since the 1975-1990 Civil War.

In a speech on Thursday after his appointment as prime minister-designate, Hariri said he would move quickly to form a new government "because the time is running out and this is our beloved country's last and only chance."

Hariri said he would build an apolitical and technocratic government to economic, financial, and administrative reforms put forward in the French initiative.

The French initiative seeks to chart Lebanon away from financial ruin and comprises a road map of reforms that French President Emmanuel Macron said would unlock international aid if followed. Part of that aid would be pledged at a donor conference that Macron has said he would organize to raise funds in order to rebuild Beirut after the Aug. 4 port explosion.

"I tell the Lebanese people, who are facing despairing hardships, I say that I am dedicated to my promise to them to work on stopping the collapse that is threatening our economy, our security, and to rebuild the destruction of the terrible port explosion in Beirut," said Hariri.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun earlier in the day appointed Hariri as prime minister-designate after 65 lawmakers threw their weight behind him in consultations held at the presidential palace.

Hariri's return to the premiership comes almost exactly a year after he was forced to step down under the weight of the nationwide uprising that began on Oct. 17, 2019, over rising prices and deteriorating economic conditions in the country.

There were 53 other lawmakers who declined to name an alternative candidate, and two more were absent.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said after Hariri's designation that he was optimistic that a new government will be formed "faster than expected."