| 26 September 2022, Monday |

Lebanon’s president sees no reason to delay polls after Hariri exit

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Saturday that there was no need to postpone parliamentary elections in May after three-times former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said he would boycott the poll and stand down from politics.

Hariri has been Lebanon’s prominent Sunni Muslim leader since taking over when his father, Rafik al-Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.

The action ushers in a new era of sectarianism in Lebanon and adds to the uncertainty confronting a country suffering from the worst financial crisis since the country’s civil war from 1975 to 1990.

Aoun, a Maronite Christian, was speaking after meeting Lebanon’s highest Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian.

“I highlighted to His Eminence the Mufti the role of the dignified Sunni community in preserving Lebanon’s unity and political variety, as well as the significance of participation in national and political life by all components of Lebanon,” Aoun stated.

“We are making all required preparations to hold the polls on schedule, and I see no reason to postpone them.”

Western states want the election to take place on schedule.

Together with its allies, the Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist group by the United States, won a parliamentary majority in 2018.

A boycott by 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 support candidates but will not be running himself, his media advisor said.

Bahaa has been fiercely critical of Hezbollah, and the compromising approach adopted by Saad towards the group in the later years of his career.

  • Reuters