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Hariri replaces chief of staff after poll setback

Lebanon PM remains frontrunner to form the next government

Image Credit: AP
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks to his supporters during a celebration after his bloc won 21 seats in the parliamentary elections, paving the way for him to be named the next premier, at his house in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 11, 2018.
Gulf News

Beirut: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri has replaced his chief of staff after his Future Party lost more than a third of its seats in parliamentary elections a week ago.

The Future Party won 20 seats, down from the 33 it won in the country’s last elections held in 2009.

In a post-election speech last week, Hariri said the party had been expecting a better result and there had been “gaps” in how it conducted its campaign, for which people would be held responsible.

Hariri’s office announced the resignation of Nader Hariri, a cousin of the prime minister, late on Saturday. It said Mohammad Mnaimne had replaced him in a temporary capacity.

Despite Future’s losses, Hariri is still the frontrunner to form the next government, as the Sunni Muslim leader with the biggest bloc in parliament. Lebanon’s prime minister has to be a Sunni under its sectarian power-sharing system.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah group and factions and individuals that support its possession of weapons made significant gains last Sunday, winning more than half the seats in parliament.

Hezbollah’s powerful arsenal has been a point of contention in Lebanon for years.

The staunchly anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces won 15 seats, almost doubling their MPs.

The current parliament’s term expires on May 20, and difficult negotiations are expected over the division of positions in the new government.

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