Weekend Herald

Lebanon Prime Minister quits

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Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, stepped down yesterday over what he called “key difference­s” with the President, deepening a political crisis that has left the Lebanese without a Government for nine months even as they endure an unpreceden­ted economic meltdown. With no clear candidate to replace Hariri, Lebanon is likely to slide deeper into chaos and uncertaint­y. Prospects for forming a Government to undertake desperatel­y needed reforms and talks for a recovery package with the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund are now even more remote. Poverty has soared in the past several months and dire shortages of medicines, fuel and electricit­y have marked what the World Bank describes as one of the world’s worst economic crisis of the past 150 years. Later, Hariri — one of Lebanon’s most prominent Sunni Muslim leaders — said he has no intention of endorsing a replacemen­t. According to Lebanon’s sectarian-based political system, the Prime Minister is picked from the ranks of Sunnis. Without Hariri’s backing, prospects of forming a Government are even more remote. President Michel Aoun said he would set a date for consultati­ons on naming a new Prime Minister-designate.

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