The Lebanese President sees no reason to postpone the elections after Hariri’s departure


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Saturday he saw no reason to delay May’s general election after three-time former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced he was boycotting the vote and retiring from politics .

Hariri is the leading Sunni Muslim politician in Lebanon, having inherited the mantle from his father Rafik al-Hariri after his assassination in 2005.

The move opens a new phase in Lebanon’s sectarian politics and adds to the uncertainties facing a country suffering from a financial meltdown that poses the greatest threat to stability since a 1975-90 civil war.

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Aoun, the Maronite Christian President, was speaking after meeting Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, the senior Sunni cleric in Lebanon.

“I have emphasized to His Eminence the Mufti the role played by the honorable Sunni community in maintaining the unity and political diversity of Lebanon, and the importance of the participation of all components of Lebanon in national and political life,” Aoun said.

“We are making all the necessary preparations to hold the elections on time and I see no reason to delay them.”

Western states want the vote to take place on time.

The Iran-backed Shia Muslim group Hezbollah, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, won a parliamentary majority along with its allies in 2018.

Boycotting Hariri and his Future movement will affect the 20 seats they won in 2018 and many more won by other groups in local alliances with Future.

On Friday, Saad’s older brother Bahaa signaled he was entering politics, saying he would continue “the journey” of his father.

He plans to endorse candidates but will not run himself, his media adviser said.

Bahaa has harshly criticized Hezbollah and Saad’s compromising approach to the group in the later years of his career.

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writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Mike Harrison

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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