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Lebanon parties agree to name ex-finance minister as new PM

Lebanon's nearly one-month old protest movement has grown into a cross-sectarian outcry [AFP]

Date of publication: 15 November, 2019

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Several major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, as the prime minister of a new government.
The major political parties in Lebanon have agreed on naming former finance minister and businessman Mohammed Safadi as the prime minister of a new government, local media reported on Thursday.

Four political blocs agreed nominating the 75-year-old following a meeting between caretaker PM Saad Hariri and senior representatives of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah.

"The blocs of Hezbollah, Free Patriotic Movement, Future Movement and Amal Movement agreed on naming Safadi as prime minister," Lebanon's The Daily Star reported citing an anonymous source.

The president's office will need to call for a parliamentary session to officially deliver Safadi's nomination, after which the prime minister-designate will work to form a new government.

Lebanon's nearly one-month old protest movement, which first erupted in opposition to a proposed tax on calls made via free phone apps, has grown into a cross-sectarian outcry against everything from perceived state corruption to rampant electricity cuts.

Demonstrators say they are fed up with the same families dominating government institutions since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

The government stepped down on October 29 but stayed on in a caretaker capacity and no overt efforts have so far been made to form a new one, as an economic crisis has also battered the country.

Protesters have demanded a new government be composed of experts not affiliated with any of the traditional political parties.

Many protesters came out late on Thursday to demonstrate Safadi's possible nomination.

Local media reported protesters rallied around Safadi's residence in Tripoli.

"He is notorious for being corrupt. His nomination will fail before he even makes a government," one protester said on live TV, according to The Daily Star.

Safadi's wife, Violette, is a minister in the current caretaker cabinet.

In 2009, Safadi won the Tripoli seat in parliamentary elections, where he ran on Hariri's electoral list.

From 2011 - 2014, he was finance minister in Najib Mikati's government.

In 2006, The Guardian reported that Safadi was involved in Al Yamama arms deal through an anonymous offshore company, Poseidon.

The company was allegedly used to transfer money to Safadi, who was working for Prince Turki bin Nasser, Saudi royal and an air force officer at that time.

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