Parliament speaker: Situation in Lebanon getting more 'complicated'

The situation in Lebanon is becoming more complicated, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was cited as saying by newspaper al-Joumhouria on Saturday, comments that suggested a deal needed to form a new government had yet to be finalized. 

"Things are becoming more complicated, and a quick solution is needed to get Lebanon out of this crisis," Berri said.

Lebanon appeared to move toward consensus on a new premier on Thursday after caretaker prime minister Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni politician, and Shi'ite group Hezbollah and its Shi'ite ally Amal agreed to back ex-finance minister Mohammad Safadi, according to political sources and local media.

Who is Mohammad Safadi?

Mohammad Safadi is a prominent businessman and former member of parliament from the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli. He was finance minister from 2011 to 2014 under Prime Minister Najib Mikati and was also previously minister of economy and trade.
Reuters' file photo of Mohammad Safadi

Reuters' file photo of Mohammad Safadi

However, Safadi said in a statement released by his office that it would have been difficult to form a "harmonious" cabinet supported by all the parties, withdrawing his candidacy to be the next prime minister. 

In the statement, Safadi was reported late on Saturday to have added that he hoped outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri would be designated again for the post.

The process 

Hariri quit as prime minister on October 29 in the face of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. 

Lebanon's prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, according to its sectarian power-sharing system. 

The process for choosing a new premier requires President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, to formally consult members of parliament on their choice for prime minister. He must designate whoever gets the most votes. 

Hezbollah and Amal have wanted Hariri to return as premier, but the Shi'ite groups and Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, have demanded the inclusion of both technocrats and politicians in the cabinet, while Hariri has insisted on a cabinet composed entirely of technocrats. 

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: Lebanese demonstrators clash with anti-riot police on the road leading to the Presidential Palace in Baabda, November 13, 2019. /VCG Photo)