1041 GMT July 24, 2021
Hariri announced his decision after meeting President Michel Aoun, saying it was clear they could not agree, underscoring the political squabbling that has blocked the formation of a cabinet even as Lebanon sinks deeper into crisis, Reuters reported.
Hariri, a former prime minister, was designated in October to assemble a government following the resignation of prime minister Hassan Diab's cabinet in the wake of the Beirut port explosion.
Protesters blocked some roads of Beirut after his announcement on Thursday, setting fire to trash and tires. Army troops deployed, firing in the air to disperse protesters who pelted the soldiers with missiles. One soldier was wounded, a security source said.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Lebanese leaders are responsible for solving “the current domestic, self-made crisis,” adding that it is urgent to form a new cabinet quickly. He said that an agreement with the International Monetary Fund remains essential to rescue the country from financial collapse, according to AP.
“Lebanon’s stability and prosperity are crucial for the whole region and for Europe,” Borrell said in a statement on Friday.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Lebanese leaders seemed unable to find a solution to the crisis that they had created, calling the failure to form a cabinet another terrible incident, Reuters reported.
The secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said the ramifications of the step would be serious.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Hariri's decision was "disappointing" and urged Lebanese leaders to put aside their differences and form a government.
The World Bank has described Lebanon's depression as one of the sharpest in modern history. The currency has lost more than 90% of its value in two years; poverty has spread and there have been crippling fuel shortages, prompting growing fears of social unrest.
Hariri's decision marks the culmination of months of conflict over cabinet posts between him and Aoun, the Maronite Christian head of state.
Hariri and Aoun blamed each other.
"You can't ask me to do everything I can and there is another who doesn't want to sacrifice anything," Hariri said to local television Al Jadeed in an interview hours after his decision, saying that Aoun had insisted on blocking minority in any cabinet and that was a main stumbling bloc.
Hariri said Aoun had requested fundamental changes to a cabinet line-up he had presented to him on Wednesday.
In a statement, the presidency said Hariri had refused to discuss any changes and proposed to Aoun that he take an extra day to accept the proposed line-up. "What is the use of one extra day if the door of discussion is closed?" Aoun told him.
The presidency said Aoun would call for consultations with MPs to designate a new prime minister as soon as possible.
Hariri told Al Jadeed television later that his Future Movement would not name any candidates in the consultations.
But there is no obvious alternative for the post, which must be filled by a Sunni in Lebanon's sectarian system.