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Crisis deepens in Lebanon as PM-designate steps down after failing to form a government for 8 months

The Lebanese prime minister-designate has said he is stepping down from the post after failing for several months to put together a government from the country’s many opposing factions amid a worsening economic crisis.

On Thursday, Saad al-Hariri told reporters that he would relinquish his position following a 20-minute meeting with President Michel Aoun.

“It is clear we will not be able to agree [a cabinet] with his excellency the president,” Hariri stated, adding “that is why I excuse myself from government formation.”

He had been attempting to form a government for eight months amid crippling economic conditions, public distrust in political leaders and a run on the Lebanese pound.Hariri and Aoun have been at loggerheads over the formation of a new government, despite numerous meetings between the two. 

The former prime minister was chosen to form a new government on October 22, succeeding Hassan Diab, who resigned on August 10 following a devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, which many in Lebanon have blamed on government negligence. Hariri himself had resigned as leader only a year earlier amid mass anti-government protests as the economic crisis grew.

Last week, two of the country’s power plants ran out of fuel, leaving some without electricity and water. Stations at Deir Ammar and Zahrani, which provide 40% of the country’s electricity, were shut down as foreign banks were yet to sign off on transactions allowing Electricite Du Liban to unload two fuel shipments waiting in port.The state has struggled to secure finance to keep the power stations supplied throughout 2021.