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Lebanon’s ex-PM Hariri says retires from political life

January 25, 2022
Lebanon’s ex-PM Hariri says retires from political life

BEIRUT: Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri announced on Monday he would not run in upcoming parliamentary elections and was withdrawing from political life.

The 51-year-old three-time premier, who was propelled into politics by his father Rafic’s assassination in 2005, announced his decision during a press conference in the capital Beirut. Saad Hariri said he was "suspending his work in political life" and urged fellow members of his Future party to leave the political arena.

A tearful Hariri, who was first elected to parliament in 2005, also announced he would not run in the legislative polls due in May, citing "Iranian influence and international upheaval". Lebanon is grappling with an economic crisis that has seen the currency lose 90 percent of its value on the black market.

Food prices have quadrupled and around 80 percent of the population now live below the poverty line, according to the United Nations. Potential donors have repeatedly said any restoration of aid is dependent on the establishment of a viable government committed to rooting out corruption.Hariri has been the most powerful Sunni Muslim politician in Lebanon since 2005. He took the post of prime minister three times until he was forced to resign in October 2019 following mass protests against the country’s ruling class after the government imposed a $6 monthly fee for using WhatsApp voice calls.

In 2017 when he was prime minister, Riyadh forced him to announce his resignation during a visit to the kingdom, citing Hizbullah’s domination in a televised statement. The dramatic move backfired: Hariri returned home and restored his alliance with Hizbullah, losing Saudi backing.

Hariri’s decision came despite the fact that several prominent politicians including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Druze leader Walid Joumblatt tried to convince him to change his made. Many in Lebanon fear that the abstention of the moderate Hariri to run could bring hardline Sunni politicians to play in bigger role in Lebanese politics.