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Lebanon’s Hariri says is not a candidate for premiership

Lebanon’s Caretaker Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri has withdrawn his nomination for the premiership race, and stressed that the forthcoming parliamentary consultations to form a new cabinet “should not be postponed under any excuse.”

“Ever since I tendered my resignation 50 days ago in response to the scream of the Lebanese, I have strenuously sought to fulfill their demand of forming a government of experts, which I believe that it alone can address the dangerous social and economic crisis that our country is facing,” Hariri said in a written statement released on Wednesday.

“When I realized that the stances that surfaced over the past few days over my nomination were irreversible, despite my categorical commitment to the formation of a government of experts, I decided to declare that I will not nominate myself for the formation of the new government,” he added.

“I will take part tomorrow in the parliamentary consultations based on this decision, with my insistence that they should not be postponed under any excuse,” Hariri said.

“I have called on al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc to meet tomorrow morning to take its stance on the issue of nominations,” the caretaker Lebanese prime minister noted.

Berri warns against attempts to stir sectarian strife

Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has warned against bids to escalate sectarian tensions in Lebanon, stating that the crisis-hit Arab country could slide into sedition as a result of increased divisive rhetoric over the past few days.

“We warn of the bitter reality, the horrible scenes, sectarian and provincial slogans and of infiltrators and those who play with the fate of the people and the nation,” Berri told a group of lawmakers at his residence in Ain al-Tineh neighborhood of Beirut.

He added, “Given our belonging to the school that is founded [on the basis] that Sunnis and Shias are two sects of the same religion, we affirm that there is no political or party cover for anyone who harms unity and civil peace.”

“We will give orders to commit suicide rather give orders to strife. We call on security and judicial agencies to do their job in prosecuting those who incite and rekindle strife,” the senior Lebanese legislator pointed out.

Lebanon has been facing a very tough economic situation because of the failing policies of successive governments, which have led to the impoverishment of the people.

Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlocks and an economic crisis in recent years.

The country hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and their presence is often blamed for putting pressure on the already struggling economy.

Unemployment stands at more than 20 percent, according to official figures.

The Lebanese Finance Ministry says the national debt is hovering around $85 billion, which accounts for more than 150 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 Successive governments have also failed to address a waste management crisis or improve the electricity grid, which is plagued by daily power cuts.

On October 29, Hariri submitted his resignation to President Michel Aoun.

Under the constitution, Hariri’s cabinet would stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed.

The protests began on October 17, when the government proposed imposing a tax on Whatsapp calls, along with other austerity measures.

Protesters in Lebanon have stopped blocking roads and setting up barricades, and instead shifted to holding sit-ins at state-affiliated sites.

They say they will maintain pressure on the political establishment until their demands for the departure of the ruling elite and an end to chronic economic mismanagement and corruption are met.