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Aoun, Berri, Hezbollah Link Hariri’s Succession with his Return to Beirut

Aoun, Berri, Hezbollah Link Hariri’s Succession with his Return to Beirut

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 - 06:45
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (C) meets with Prime Minister Saad Hariri (R) and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon June 1, 2017. Dalati Nohra/Handout via Reuters

Sources in Lebanon’s March 8 alliance revealed a tripartite agreement between President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah on the need to wait for the return of resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Beirut before holding consultations to appoint a successor.

The sources said Hariri was expected to hand over a written resignation to the president in order to formalize the subsequent procedures.

Aoun, who has the authority to call for consultations to name a new prime minister, does not seem enthusiastic about the move. From the first day when Hariri announced his resignation, the Lebanese president emphasized that the premier must return to Beirut to discuss the circumstances behind his decision.

Meanwhile, discussions over Hariri’s successors are currently held out of the limelight, as sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hariri would be most probably reappointed after reaching a consensus on the means to deal with the coming phase. On the other hand, the March 8 alliance is pushing for the appointment of MP Bahia Hariri to the post.

Future Movement MP Oqab Saqr strongly denied all claims about talks on the next prime minister.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saqr stressed that the resignation remained pending until the premier’s return to Beirut, saying: “The resignation was not accepted at all pending the return of Prime Minister Hariri to submit it” in writing.

“Later, we can talk about the next step, which is supposed to be focused on reaching a national consensus for the coming phase with regards to the establishment of a sound relationship with the Arab environment and the commitment to the foundations of fraternal relations and international covenants,” he added.

Sakr underlined that the ball was now in Hezbollah’s court, saying: “The issue is linked to the position of Hezbollah and Iran, and we are waiting to see whether there is a possibility of change in the military and security strategy of Hezbollah in the Arab region.”

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati, for his part, said on Wednesday that in light of the current circumstances, “the Sunni community should not be absent from the ruling (process) in Lebanon.”

Former Minister Ashraf Rifi was the first to hasten the holding of consultations to appoint a new premier. In remarks earlier this week, Rifi said that Aoun’s failure to set a date for binding consultations was a “clear constitutional violation.”

“We do not accept the violation of the powers of the prime minister,” he stated.

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