Leading figures agree to new Hariri government

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Former Lebanese Prime Mminister Saad Hariri meets with Samir Khatib, a Lebanese businessman who was the front-runner to form a new government. (AFP)
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Lebanon's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan meets with Samir Khatib, a Lebanese businessman who is the front-runner to form a new Lebanese government. (AFP)
Updated 09 December 2019

Leading figures agree to new Hariri government

  • Samir Khatib will stand aside to allow Saad Hariri to form a government in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Samir Khatib, after meeting with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdellatif Deryan on Sunday, 24 hours before the planned start of binding parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister, will stand aside to allow Saad Hariri to form a government in Lebanon.

Khatib had previously been recommended by Hariri, the former prime minister currently serving as caretaker, to succeed him. 

Lebanese security forces implemented strict security measures on Sunday, to ensure that the roads to the Baabda Palace were secure for the 128 members of Parliament, who will name the next prime minister. Last night the process was postponed for a week.

Public affairs expert and activist Zeina El-Helou told Arab News: “The parties participating in the protests movement have decided through their coordination bodies that they will not block roads on Monday. Instead, they will allow for the parliamentary consultations to take place because, for 41 days, this has been our demand after Hariri’s government resigns.

“But if others proceed to block roads, know that they are affiliated with political parties that do not support the political settlement that will take place.”

The civil movement continued in Beirut over the weekend, as activists rejected Khatib as a possible prime minister as “an extension of the ruling political power.”

El-Helou said: “The parties in power did not take into consideration the people’s confidence crisis toward this government, nor have they considered the economic crisis or people’s demands.

“We reject Hariri’s return to head the government because of his history in this role, and we refuse to have the crisis portrayed as a Sunni sect crisis.”

MPs from the blocs that had agreed to name Khatib prime minister retracted the statement that this was final, especially the bloc affiliated with President Michel Aoun, the largest grouping in Parliament.

Mario Aoun, member of the Strong Lebanon bloc, said: “The bloc has not yet made a final decision, but it is likely that Khatib will be named if Hariri does not retract his stance that he is the most powerful in his sect and because we are committed to national unity.”

He did not rule out “a political surprise on the day of the consultations.”

Hezbollah and its allies accused Hariri — without naming him — of “acting with obstinacy and selfishness in an attempt to evade duties.”

MP Hassan Fadlallah of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc said: “There are those who think the boat will sink, so they try to jump off it to save themselves, or they see that the country is collapsing, so they want others to bear the consequences while they watch from outside the national responsibility.”

The head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, said that the only solution to the political impasse was to form a government based on the principles of the Taif Agreement and the constitution.

“We do not want to be part of a government that has toppled all the constitutional foundations,” he said.


Trump gives dramatic account of Soleimani’s last minutes before death: CNN

Updated 44 min 17 sec ago

Trump gives dramatic account of Soleimani’s last minutes before death: CNN

  • The president spoke at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, at a Republican event
  • CNN said it obtained an audio recording of Trump’s remarks

PALM BEACH, Florida: US President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the US drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The president spoke in a ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, at a Republican event that raised $10 million for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and for the Republican National Committee.
Reporters were not allowed in for the event. CNN said it obtained an audio recording of Trump’s remarks. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Jan. 3 killing of Soleimani at Baghdad airport prompted Iran to retaliate with missile strikes against US forces in Iraq days later and almost triggered a broad war between the two countries.
“They’re together sir,” Trump said military officials told him. “Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds. No emotion. ‘Two minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car, they’re in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. Thirty seconds. Ten, 9, 8 ...’ “
“Then all of a sudden, boom,” he said. “’They’re gone, sir. Cutting off.’“
“I said, where is this guy?” Trump continued. “That was the last I heard from him.”
It was the most detailed account that Trump has given of the drone strike, which has drawn criticism from some US lawmakers because neither the president nor his advisers have provided public information to back up their statements that Soleimani presented an “imminent” threat to Americans in the region.
CNN said that in the audio, Trump did not repeat that Soleimani was an imminent threat. Trump said Soleimani was “saying bad things about our country” before the strike, which led to his decision to authorize his killing.