Lebanon Prime Minister quits
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.