Hariri: I Support Samir Khatib and Technocrats Will Represent Me in Govt.

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday publicly announced that he endorses the nomination of the engineer and businessman Samir Khatib for the PM-designate post.

“I support Samir Khatib but some details remain pending and I will not take part in the government,” Hariri told reporters following a meeting with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat at the Center House.

"Everyone is seeking to overcome this difficult stage," Hariri added.

In response to another question, he said that he has not set any conditions and that "the Prime Minister is the one who forms the government."

Asked whether he will participate in the government, Hariri said: "Not through political figures but through technocrats."

Media reports have said that Hariri will hold a decisive meeting at night Tuesday with the political aides of Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

“Tonight (Ali Hassan) Khalil and (Hussein) al-Khalil will meet with Hariri. If he pledges to them that he will endorse Samir Khatib, the (parliamentary) consultations (to name the PM-designate) will be held within days,” the journalist Salem Zahran, who is close to Hizbullah, tweeted.

“As for (Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid) Jumblat, he has taken a final decision to take part in a techno-political government in which Hizbullah would be represented,” Zahran added.

Hizbullah’s al-Manar TV later reported that Hariri will meet with Ali Hassan Khalil and Hussein Khalil to “put the final touches ahead of designating a premier and forming the government.”

Political talks to name a premier-designate have reportedly made major progress over the past few hours, amid a reported meeting between Khatib, President Michel Aoun and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil.

Khatib heads one of Lebanon's largest engineering and contracting companies and did not hold any political roles in the past.

Over the past weeks, politicians failed to agree on the shape and form of a new government. Hariri had insisted on heading a government of technocrats, while his opponents, including Hizbullah, want a Cabinet made up of both experts and politicians.

It was not clear how the protesters who have been demonstrating against widespread corruption and mismanagement in the country would respond to the possible formation of the government. The frustrated protesters have resorted to road closures and other tactics to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government.

They have insisted that a new Cabinet be made up of independent figures that have nothing to do with the ruling elite that have been running the country since the 1975-90 civil war ended.

On Tuesday evening, a number of protesters staged a sit-in outside Khatib's residents in Beirut's Tallet al-Khayyat area to reject his reported nomination for the PM post.

Source: Naharnet

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