Hizbullah Refrains from Naming Hariri for Premiership, Berri Says 'Time to Pay Back the Debt'

Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance bloc did not name ex-PM Saad Hariri for the premiership, while head of the Development and Liberation bloc Speaker Nabih Berri said it is time to “pay back the debt” to Hariri as his bloc named him prime minister during the binding parliamentary consultations on Thursday with newly elected President General Michel Aoun.

Speaking on behalf of the bloc, MP Mohammed Raad said: “We did not name anyone for the post of prime minister.”

Independent MPs including Nicolas Fattoush, Robert Ghanem, Dory Chamoun, Ahmed Fatfat, Mohammed al-Safadi, Serge Tor Sarkisian, Emile Rahme said after their separate meetings with Aoun that they named al-Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Hariri for the post.

Head of the Liberals Party, Chamoun said: “It is normal that I name my friend Hariri for the post. It is my duty to put myself at the disposal of the President.”

Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat who had asked to make the consultation alone away from his Mustabqal bloc, said: “I have named Hariri for the premiership, and I wish success for this era. The oath of office was excellent.”

Asked about the reason that made him want to make the consultation alone, he said: “I did not want to embarrass the bloc with my previous stances.”

The Development and Liberation bloc of Speaker Nabih Berri, Armenian MPs bloc and al-Jamaa al-Islamiya bloc all have named Hariri.

“It is time that we return the debt. We name Hariri for the post of premiership,” said Berri speaking on behalf of the bloc.

To a question by reporters whether the bloc plans to cooperate in the future, Berri said: “If there wer no intentions to cooperate we would not have named Hariri.”

The binding parliamentary consultations for the designation of a new premier kicked off on Wednesday at the presidential palace in Baabda.

By the end of Wednesday's consultations, Hariri had received 86 votes out of 126 possible ones.

On Monday, Aoun was elected president of the republic. His election ended a presidential void that lasted around two and a half years. His chances were largely boosted by a key endorsement from Hariri in mid-October.

Analysts have warned that Aoun's election will not be a "magic wand" for Lebanon, which has seen longstanding political divisions exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria and has struggled to deal with an influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

In addition to pledges of economic growth and security, Aoun said in his oath of office that Lebanon must work to ensure Syrian refugees "can return quickly" to their country.

Aoun also pledged to endorse an "independent foreign policy" and to protect Lebanon from "the fires burning across the region."

Source: Naharnet

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