After Violent Weekend, Presidency Postpones Consultations on New PM
The anticipated binding parliamentary consultations to name a new Premier have been postponed until December 19 for “further consultations on the government,” after violent clashes erupted over the weekend between protesters and security forces.
The Presidency office of President Michel Aoun issued a statement shortly before the scheduled consultations at Baabda Palace saying that “President Aoun responded to the wishes of (caretaker) prime minister Saad Hariri to postpone parliamentary consultations until Thursday December 19.”
It is not the first time the talks have been delayed. Parliamentary consultations had been scheduled for December 9 before being pushed back a week.
TV networks said that only 57 lawmakers were to vote in favor of Hariri out of 128 members of parliament. The number of votes would not qualify Hariri to lead the new government.
The government stepped down on October 29 in the face of unprecedented nationwide protests.
The names of various potential candidates to replace Hariri have been circulated in recent weeks but bitterly divided political parties have failed to agree on a new premier.
Cabinet formation can drag on for months in the multi-confessional country, with Hariri taking almost nine months to reach an agreement with all political sides for the last one.
Earlier this month the Sunni Muslim establishment threw its support behind Hariri returning, further angering protesters who have demanded a cabinet of independent experts.
Demonstrations on Sunday in Beirut began peacefully with protesters waving Lebanese flags and chanting "Hariri will not return".
Clashes erupted later for the second night in a row near parliament, with demonstrators throwing water bottles and firecrackers at the security forces who responded with tear gas and water cannon, an AFP photographer said.
Saturday evening had seen dozens of people hurt when security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators who tried to breach metal barricades near the legislature.
The international community has urged a new cabinet to be formed swiftly to implement key economic reforms and unlock international aid as Lebanon's debt-burdened economy slides towards collapse.