Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri says he is stepping down, nine months after he was named to the post by the parliament and citing “key differences” with the country’s president.
The development is likely to plunge the country further into chaos and uncertainty.
Lebanon is going through an unprecedented economic crisis, described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world in 150 years.
“It is clear that we will not be able to agree with the president,” Hariri said, after a 20-minute meeting with President Michel Aoun.
With no obvious alternative for the post, which must be filled by a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon’s sectarian system, there is little hope of a government that can start fixing the economic situation.
Hariri met on Wednesday with Aoun after weeks of a stalemate in renewed efforts to resolve the political deadlock and following a quick trip to Egypt, a close ally.
He proposed a new 24-minister cabinet and said he expected a response from Aoun by Thursday.
There were reports this was a last-ditch effort by Hariri.
Hariri, 51, resigned from his post in October 2019 in a bow to country-wide protests which had demanded major reforms and condemned the entire political class.
A year later, he was named once again to the post by parliament amid a crippling economic crisis and months after a massive explosion in Beirut that compounded the country’s woes.