Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri resigns as political crisis escalates

Citing key differences with the country’s president, Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri steps down from his position.

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On Thursday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri resigned from his office after being unable to form a government for over the past eight months.

Al-Hariri stepped down after a short meeting with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace.

“I withdrew from forming the government,” he told reporters. “Aoun demanded some amendments, which he considered essential, and said we will not be able to reach an understanding with each other… And may God save this country.”

Al-Hariri is expected to talk about futile government-formation efforts in a television interview later Thursday. Meanwhile, Aoun blamed Al-Hariri of determining to step down prior to their meeting. “Al-Hariri rejected any amendments related to changes in ministries, their sectarian distribution, and the names associated with them,” the president’s office said in a statement.

Later Thursday, supporters of Hariri and his Future Movement party took to the streets, jamming roads with burning tires and rubbish bins in several areas around Beirut. Several dozen protesters at Beirut’s Sports City conflicted with Lebanese soldiers in riot gear.

Major highways south of the capital were also targeted by protestors. Roads in the northern city of Tripoli and in the southern city of Sour were also blocked.

On Wednesday, al-Hariri presented a 24-minister cabinet to the Lebanese President. “Now is the moment of truth,” Hariri had told reporters after delivering the proposal to Aoun. After meeting with the Lebanese President to provide him with the proposal, al-Hariri had expressed that he would resign from his position if the proposal was refused.

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