Hariri gambles on Aoun to break Lebanon political deadlock

Hariri gambles on Aoun to break Lebanon political deadlock
By Robert Hackwill
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Saad Hariri has taken a bold gamble endorsing Michel Aoun for Lebanon's presidency. Despite Aoun's closeness to nemesis Hezbollah, Hariri may pick up the prime minister's job.

Lebanon may be nearing the end of a two-and-a-half-year political deadlock that has left
the nation without a president.

Former prime minister Saad Hariri, who leads the largest block in parliament, now says he will back leading Christian politician General Michel Aoun, despite his being a strong ally of Hezbollah, an organisation that many accuse of murdering Hariri’s father.

“In our dialogue with Michel Aoun we reached an agreement to revive the state, the institutions, the economy, basic services, job opportunities and to give Lebanese women and men the chance to live a normal life,” said Hariri, who may hope to become Aoun’s prime minister.

Hariri’s endorsement will be put to the test on October 31 when parliament sits again to decide on the presidency, the 46th time it has tried to since Michel Suleiman left office in 2014. Hezbollah has welcomed the move, but has refused to commit to any wider power-sharing agreement. Traditionally Lebanon reserves the presidency for a Christian, the prime minister’s job for a Sunni Muslim, and parliamentary speaker for a Shi’ite.

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