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Lebanon's Saad Hariri designated as next prime minister

Hariri's party lost sizeable chunk of its power in May 6 vote, but remains the biggest Sunni-led party with 20 seats.

Saad Hariri

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has asked Saad Hariri to form a new government, designating him as the country's next prime minister, according to a televised statement from Aoun's office.

Hariri was put forward for the job by 111 of 128 members of Lebanon's parliament in consultations with Aoun held on Thursday.

It will be the third term for Hariri, who has held the position since December 2016 and was also prime minister between 2009 and 2011.

In parliamentary elections held on May 6, Hariri's Future Movement lost more than one-third of its power but remains the biggest Sunni-led party with 20 seats.

Hezbollah and its allies made the most significant gains by winning 70 seats.

Under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system, the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, the speaker a Shia Muslim and the president a Maronite Christian.

Hariri said on Thursday the new national unity government he is tasked to form must commit to the state’s policy of staying out of regional conflicts, Reuters news agency reported.

Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker, said consultations on forming a new national unity government will take place on Monday, Reuters reported.

Berri was overwhelmingly re-elected as speaker for a six term on Wednesday.

The politician with close ties to Hezbollah, the Shia party with a powerful armed wing, received 98 votes. He has been the assembly’s speaker since 1992.

A senior official familiar with Hezbollah's thinking told Reuters the party intends to secure three cabinet seats in the next coalition government. It previously held two portfolios.

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