Former minister Diab on course to be named Lebanese PM

Lebanese mob attacks cleric's office, burns Christmas tree

It is not clear that Diab will be acceptable to the protesters, who have been calling for an overhaul of Lebanon's political elite and an end to the corruption that blights the country.

Sources close to Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanese media told Reuters on Thursday, December 10, 2019, that Hariri's Future Movement will not be participating in the next government.

Lebanon, wrestling with the worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, has been in dire need of a new government since outgoing Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on October 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite.

After more than six hours of consultations on Thursday, Diab had garnered help within parliamentary blocs - including Hezbollah and tiny allied events - and felt in a position to succeed Hariri.

After several postponements, Mr. Aoun eventually established the parliamentary consultations given to because of the Constitution during the presidential palace.

Berri, the parliament speaker, and outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Tuesday and urged the Lebanese not to be "drawn toward strife" and adding that some parties they didn't name are working to incite violence in the country.

A career academic, Mr Diab held the education portfolio from 2011 to 2014 in a government formed after Hezbollah brought down a previous Hariri cabinet.

Aoun appointed the engineer and former minister as prime minister-designate after Diab secured a majority of 69 endorsements from MPs.

Hariri resigned on October 29, almost two weeks into a nationwide cross-sectarian protest movement demanding the wholesale removal of a political elite seen as corrupt and incompetent.

In his first public address, Diab said he would work quickly to form a government that represents a wide array of people following consultations with political parties as well as representatives of the protest movement.

"I have seriously worked to meet the demand (of the demonstrators, note) of a government of technocrats, which I considered as the only one able to solve the serious social and economic crisis" regarding the nation, stated Mr. Hariri Wednesday. And under Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing agreement, the prime minister must be Sunni.

Imad Salamey, a political science professor at the Lebanese American University, said the expected appointment of Diab will only "deepen" Lebanon's crisis.

The clashes have involved security forces and anti-government protesters, as well as supporters of Lebanon's two main Shiite groups, Hezbollah and Amal.

According to a 2018 biography, Mr Diab is one of only a few non-party affiliated technocrats to have been a minister in Lebanon.

Three days after the start of the anti-government protests, he called them a "historic and awe-inspiring scene".

While the huge crowds that filled the squares of Beirut and other Lebanese cities two months ago have dwindled, the protest movement has remained vibrant.

Tensions have been further heightened by the looming bankruptcy of the debt-ridden Lebanese state.

The United States has on many occasions voiced its opposition to any government dominated by Hezbollah.

Lebanon's crisis has been growing, with banks imposing tight capital controls, the pound slumping by a third from its official rate and companies shedding jobs and cutting salaries.

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