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Hariri To Return To Head Lebanon's Cabinet With Slim Support

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Lebanon protests against Saad Hariri for Prime Minister

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN)Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was toppled in a popular uprising almost one year ago, has been tasked with forming the crisis-plagued country's next government.

The prime minister-designate, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down nearly a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against economic hardships.

In his acceptance speech on Thursday, Hariri said he would move as quickly as possible to put the new government together, "because time is running out and this is our beloved country's last and only chance".

France, Lebanon's most supportive Western ally, has called for its leaders to form a more technocratic government to build stability that in turn would allow it to gain more worldwide support.

The cabinet that initially succeeded Hariri's was forced to resign after the devastating Beirut port explosion that killed more than 200 people, intensifying the protests.

Hariri won the backing of a majority of parliamentarians in consultations with Aoun.

Later, they took over the bridge linking the western and eastern parts of Beirut, while shouting slogans against the nearly certain election of the former prime minister.

Hezbollah, the militia and political faction that is backed by Iran, now has control over Lebanon's affairs.

The powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah supports Hariri's designation but refrained from voting for him to avoid appearing to be breaking ranks with its ally, Aoun's party. The Shiite Hezbollah bloc, heavyweight in Lebanese politics, "has not given a name", but its main ally, the Amal movement, supports the appointment of Mr. Hariri.

The former, and now new, Prime Minister (of the Future current) had to give in to a popular movement born on 17 October 2019 demanding the departure of all politicians in power, as they were deemed incompetent and corrupt.

Addressing members of Parliament who will nominate the next prime minister, Aoun said: "This is your responsibilities, deputies, for you are in charge of parliamentary oversight and accountability on behalf of the people that you represent".

Business as usual in Lebanon is unacceptable and any new government must be committed to - and capable of implementing - reforms that bring economic opportunity, good governance and an end to endemic corruption, a top USA diplomat said on Thursday.

The process can take months in Lebanon, where consensus between most of its top political groups is required for major decisions.

Portending tensions ahead, protesters who took to the streets Wednesday rejecting Hariris nomination were heckled by his supporters amid heavy security deployment. A new fist was raised on Thursday.

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