Lebanon to see ‘significant change’ if Hariri forms technocratic cabinet, says former PM Siniora

DUBAI, If Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri forms a government with technocrats as ministers, the country will see a “significant change,” Fouad Siniora, Lebanon’s former Prime Minister said.

“Hariri as the prime minister was chained by the political parties and was not allowed to do anything. I think he was a victim of the system. He deserves one more chance,” Siniora told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, in an exclusive interview.

“We can see a significant change [If Hariri forms a technocratic government],” he added.

Hariri, 49, announced his resignation in October amid nationwide protests against the political system.

He re-emerged as a candidate for prime minister on Sunday when the businessman Samir Khatib, who was a consensus candidate, withdrew his candidacy to lead the government.

Hariri said he would return as prime minister only if he could lead a government of technocrats, as demanded by the protesters, to deal with the economic crisis and attract foreign aid.

However, Hezbollah and other political groups have rejected the proposal, demanding a techno-political government.

Although there is no provision in the constitution obligating the government to be constituted of technocrats, Siniora still thinks it will bring “difference” if an “experienced” prime minister is appointed.

Asked about the practical difficulties on forming a technocratic cabinet with many ruling class members opposing the idea, he said politicians wanted to have full control on the government in the past. “That’s why the situation became very bad,” he said.

“I understand it [resistance to the idea], but the situation is very delicate and we need a solution at the earliest,” explained Siniora who was Lebanon’s Prime Minister from 2005 to 2009.

He pointed out that Hezbollah and its allies have majority in parliament and they can topple the new government anytime. “They want Hariri to become the prime minister but on their own conditions.”

Hariri is willing to be the prime minister on conditions favourable to the country, said the veteran politician who had worked as a long-term adviser and later as Minister of Finance with former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, father of Saad Hariri.

He does not believe that any external forces have played any role in people’s protests on the streets in Lebanon. “There are claims that uprisings on the streets are influenced by some colonial powers and their embassies. This is not correct,” he said.

He believes the most important thing for Lebanon now is regaining the confidence of people. “There has been a complete erosion of confidence. How to get it back? That’s why we insist that we need fresh faces who can instill confidence,” he explained.

Siniora ruled out the possibility of any regional powers or extremist organisations hijacking the protests in their favour.

Source: Emirates News Agency