Hariri to Form National Unity Government, Emphasizes Openness to all Blocs

Newly designated Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced after his designation on Thursday that he will begin his national duty with openness to all political blocs even those that abstained from naming him, as he assured that he will form a national unity government.

“President of the Republic General Michel Aoun honored me by asking me to form the government. I accepted, and would like to thank him for his confidence and the confidence of the deputies who honored me with this national assignment. I will be open to all parliamentary blocs, including those who did not name me, in accordance with our constitution and our democratic values,” said Hariri from Baabda Palace.

“On this particular day, we must underscore on the extraordinary effort exerted by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, in a difficult and sensitive phase, to protect the country's unity, legitimacy, institutions, state, coexistence and civil peace in our country,” he added.

“I look forward to starting the consultations to form a national unity government that overcomes political divisions,” he went on to say.

“It is a new term. I have great hope -in this positive moment that ends the suffering of the country and its citizens that lasted for two and a half years of vacancy and paralysis- to form a government quickly, that will work on an electoral law that secures just representation and oversees the completion of the parliamentary elections on schedule,” the PM added.

“It is a new term. I hope to form a government that keeps pace with the new term and enables us all to join efforts to address the socio-economic, economic, environmental, security and political crises suffered by the Lebanese people.”

Hariri concluded as saying: “We owe it to the Lebanese to start working as soon as possible to protect our country from the flames burning around it, to reinforce its immunity in the face of terrorism, to help it deal with the difficulty of the refugees issue, to restore hope and confidence to our young men and women in a better future, and restore the confidence of the Arabs and the world in Lebanon, its message, institutions, economy and tourism and investing in it.

It is a new term, and this is my promise to the Lebanese”.

Speaking to reporters at the Center House in the evening, Hariri noted that Speaker Nabih Berri is “showing cooperation” and President Michel Aoun “wants to make achievements,” calling on all parties to “give the new tenure must a chance.”

“We will cooperate with everyone and we must depend on ourselves to resolve our issues because no one is concerned with our problems,” he added.

Hariri's key support had contributed to the election of Aoun as Lebanon's 13th president on Monday, which ended around two and a half years of presidential and political vacuum.

Aoun also received crucial support from Hizbullah and the Lebanese Forces.

Hariri's nomination and Aoun's election have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

In a sign that Hariri's task ahead might not be easy, Hizbullah's MPs declined to endorse him for the prime minister post, even though his nomination was all-but-assured.

Hariri is likely to struggle with his government's policy statement, which will have to make reference to Israel, as well as the war in Syria, both potential flashpoints with Hizbullah.

The process of forming a government could take months, with horsetrading likely to revolve around the distribution of key posts like the interior, defense and energy ministries.

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