Safadi agrees to become Lebanon PM amid crisis

Filed on November 15, 2019 | Last updated on November 15, 2019 at 10.47 pm
Safadi, Lebanon PM, crisis, Gebran Bassil, Mohammad Safadi,
Mohammad Safadi

Saad Al Hariri quit as prime minister on October 29 in the face of the protests against ruling politicians.

Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, has agreed to be Lebanon's prime minister if he wins the support of leading parties, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said on Friday.

The consensus on the wealthy 75-year-old, who has had extensive business ties to Saudi Arabia, suggests progress towards forming a new government at a time of acute economic crisis and street protests that brought down his predecessor.

Bassil told broadcaster MTV the process to name Safadi as prime minister should begin on Monday and a new government was likely to be formed quickly as all the main parties agreed on the need to move swiftly.

"I confirm that we have been in contact with minister Safadi and he has agreed to take on the position of prime minister if his name gets agreement with the main political forces in government," said Bassil.

Saad Al Hariri quit as prime minister on October 29 in the face of the protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

Banks have been closed this week because of a strike by staff over security concerns, banks have imposed controls on transfers abroad and US dollar withdrawals, and the pegged Lebanese pound is under pressure on an informal market. Some shops have increased prices of imported goods in pounds.

Political sources said the consensus on Safadi emerged in a meeting late on Thursday between Hariri and representatives of the Iran-backed group Hezbollah and its ally Amal.

A source familiar with details of the meeting said Hariri had expressed no objections to Safadi's nomination. A second source, a senior figure close to Amal and Hezbollah, said agreement in principle on Safadi's nomination had emerged at the meeting.

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