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.

Dubai government employees to start returning to work on Sunday

Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road deserted during the coronavirus curfew imposed by authorities. (AFP)
Updated 27 May 2020

Dubai government employees to start returning to work on Sunday

  • Emirate is ‘heading in the right direction’ as it gradually reopens following success in handling pandemic

DUBAI: Half of Dubai’s government employees can return to their offices on Sunday, and the rest will be able to go back on June 14, the emirate’s government announced Wednesday.

The return to work will, however, be made with “intensified precautionary measures,” to protect workers, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said. 

“Our investments in the future paid off sooner than expected,” he also said on Twitter. “It is reassuring to know we’re heading in the right direction.”

Many businesses across retail, entertainment, sports and fitness industries have already been allowed to reopen. On Monday, Dubai announced it would be easing restrictions on movement, allowing people to move freely between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. from Wednesday. 

Sheikh Hamdan also hailed the Dubai government’s handling of the crisis, saying no “vital services were affected despite the precautionary measures and movement restrictions imposed.”

The UAE reported 31,086 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday; with more than half of those infected having recovered. The country’s death toll currently stands at 253.