Lebanon’s Hariri gives up on government formation, throwing the country into further chaos

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

Mohamed Azakir | Reuters

Lebanese politician and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave up on his mandate to form a government for the crisis-rocked country on Thursday, sending Lebanon into yet deeper chaos as its beleaguered currency hits its lowest level ever.

“It is clear we will not be able to agree with his excellency the president,” Hariri told reporters after a meeting with his counterpart, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, that lasted less than 20 minutes. “That is why I excuse myself from government formation.”

According to Hariri, the disagreement centered on changes Aoun had demanded to his cabinet selection that the former prime minister could not agree to. Hariri was tasked with the challenge of forming a new government in October, roughly two months after a horrific explosion at the Port of Beirut killed more than 200 people and ignited angry protests, prompting then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab to resign.

The World Bank has called Lebanon’s economic crisis one of the worst in modern history. Its lira is now 20,000 to the dollar on the black market, having lost more than 90% of its value this year. The government has seen various fleeting or caretaker leaders since popular protests forced Hariri to resign as prime minister in October of 2019.

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