Lebanese Aoun tells PM-designate Hariri to form government or leave | Middle East News

President Michel Aoun has told Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to step down or form a government as soon as possible to tackle the country’s economic woes.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has called on Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to immediately form a new cabinet or step aside as soon as possible, amid growing anger at the deepening economic crisis in the country.

Aoun and Hariri have disagreed over the formation of the government for nearly five months, leaving Lebanon without a rudder as it sinks deeper into financial collapse.

“If Prime Minister-designate Hariri finds himself unable to form a government … he should give way to those who are,” Aoun said in a televised speech Wednesday after inviting him to the presidential palace for immediate talks on the question.

Lebanon is in the grip of a deep economic crisis which constitutes the greatest threat to its stability since the civil war of 1975-1990. A new government could implement urgent reforms and unlock international aid.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government resigned following a massive explosion at the Port of Beirut in August last year that killed 200 people, injured thousands more and ravaged buildings in surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Diab’s cabinet remained on an interim basis until a successor was formed, but rowdy politicians have been unable to agree on a government since Hariri’s appointment in October.

A seasoned politician, Hariri stepped down as prime minister in 2019 under pressure from the streets after mass protests erupted demanding the overhaul of a political class accused of being inept and corrupt.

“My call is determined and truthful to the Prime Minister-designate to immediately choose one of the two choices, because silence is not an option after today,” Aoun said.

The financial crisis has destroyed jobs, excluded people from their bank deposits, reduced the value of the Lebanese currency by almost 90% and increased the risk of widespread hunger.

The pace of unraveling has intensified over the past two weeks, with the Lebanese pound losing a third of its value against the US dollar, stores closing and protesters blocking roads.

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