Lebanon News

Diab nominated as PM with 69 votes

Former Education Minister Hassan Diab arrives at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Dec. 19, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Former Education Minister Hassan Diab secured 69 votes from MPs during binding parliamentary consultations Thursday, gaining the necessary majority to be designated as Lebanon's new prime minister.

Saad Hariri resigned as premier on Oct. 29.

Diab, a professor at the American University of Beirut, emerged as the favorite candidate Wednesday evening. His name was proposed and agreed by officials from Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement.

He does not enjoy wide Sunni support for the sect's top post in the government.

The consultations began at 10:30 a.m. and ended just before 6 p.m., with parliamentary blocs naming their candidates for the post.

Diab received support from the FPM bloc, the Amal Movement’s Development and Liberation bloc, Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli, the Consultative Gathering bloc, the National Coalition bloc, the Social Nationalist bloc and Independent MP Jamil al-Sayyed.

Speaker Nabih Berri arrived just before 5 p.m. to meet with Aoun, heading the Development and Liberation bloc meeting.

The consultations began when Hariri arrived at 10:30 a.m. to meet with Aoun. Hariri left the meeting and wished everyone luck.

Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati then arrived at 10:45 a.m. After his meeting with the president, Mikati told local media that his Solidarity bloc would not name a prime ministerial candidate.

At 11 a.m., former PM Tammam Salam met with Aoun. Shortly after, he said he would also not name anyone, as he didn't see "the point of naming a candidate for the premiership in this atmosphere."

The Future bloc – the first bloc to meet with the president – said after an 11:30 a.m meeting that it would also not name a candidate.

It was reported that the Future bloc informed Aoun that the Future Movement would not participate in the new government.

The Lebanese Forces' Strong Republic bloc abstained from naming a candidate, MP George Adwan said.

Independent MP Michel al-Murr did not attend the consultations. MP Fouad Makhzoumi did attend, but did not nominate a candidate for PM.

MP Osama Saad also said that he did not name anymore for the premiership, while MP Paula Yacoubian nominated Halime El-Kaakour for the post.

MP Chamel Roukoz did not name anyone. “I don’t know Hassan Diab, this is why I didn’t vote for him,” Roukoz told reporters after the meeting with Aoun.

MP Neemat Frem also told reporters that he did not name a candidate.

Ferzli, who met with President Michel Aoun at 11:15 a.m., was the first person to nominate Diab.

Ferzli told reporters after the meeting that he had named Diab for the position, in order to address the country's need to form a government.

The Progressive Socialist Party's Democratic Gathering bloc, the Kataeb Party, MP Nouhad Machnouk and MP Michel Moawad named Judge Nawaf Salam for the premiership, giving him 13 votes.

Thursday’s parliamentary consultations were postponed twice.

They were initially scheduled for Dec. 9, but Aoun put them back until Dec. 16, then further delayed them until Dec 19, in accordance with Hariri’s wishes.

The governmental deadlock began when Hariri resigned from his post on Oct. 29, after weeks of nationwide protests against the ruling class.





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