Professor emerges as likely pick for Lebanon PM

Professor emerges as likely pick for Lebanon PM after Hariri backs out
2 min read
19 December, 2019
Former Education Minister Hassan Diab is reportedly backed by a coalition representing around two thirds of the current parliament.
Diab is currently a professor at the American University of Beirut [Twitter]
University professor and former Education Minister Hassan Diab has emerged as a likely choice for Lebanon's next prime minister, local media reported on Wednesday.

Discussions around forming a new government have repeatedly stalled as the country's myriad factions have failed to agree on a single candidate for prime minister following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

Caretaker Prime Minister Hariri - who resigned from the leadership in late October just two weeks after nationwide protests challenging government corruption, economic mismanagement and sectarianism erupted - said on Wednesday he will not remain as prime minister.

"I have strived to meet their demand for a government of experts, which I saw as the only option to address the serious social and economic crisis our country faces," Hariri said.

"I announce I will not be a candidate to form the next government," he said in a statement.

Diab has emerged as the strongest candidate to be nominated in Thursday's planned consultations, with backing from Lebanon's March 8 Alliance political bloc, LBC reported.

Currently a computer engineering professor at the American University of Beirut, Diab is a relative nobody with little political experience beyond serving as education minister between 2011 and 2014.

The consultations for a new cabinet led by President Michel Aoun have been postponed twice already and it remains to be seen whether they will indeed take place on Thursday, and if Hariri's chance of a third mandate as prime minister is really over.

The Amal Movement, Hezbollah, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the Marada Movement and the Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil have all reportedly given their backing to Diab.

All are members of the March 8 Alliance, whose members make up around two thirds of the current Lebanese cabinet and parliament.

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