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Lebanon: Consultations on New PM Postponed

Lebanon: Consultations on New PM Postponed

Monday, 16 December, 2019 - 09:15
Protesters stand near burning tents during anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon December 15, 2019. Reuters

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday delayed talks with heads of parliamentary blocs on naming a new prime minister after a particularly violent weekend that saw security forces fire tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons for two straight days to disperse hundreds of protesters.

The violence was the toughest crackdown so far on anti-government demonstrations that have gripped Lebanon since Oct. 17, paralyzing the nation and plunging the country into unprecedented political and financial turmoil.

Baabda palace said the consultations, which had been planned for Monday would take place on Thursday instead, following a special request from outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Aoun "responded to the wishes of Hariri" to postpone the consultations, the presidency announced.

Hariri resigned on Oct. 29, after the protests first broke out earlier that month over rampant corruption and mismanagement.

The statement issued by Aoun’s press office said Hariri asked the president to give time for more discussions among political groups before official consultations take place.

The weekend violence erupted after it became evident that Hariri would likely be renamed to the post — something the anti-government protesters reject, saying they want a cabinet of technocrats and an independent PM not affiliated with existing parties.

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.

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