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The Sun leader renounces to stand for parliamentary elections and urges his party, the Future Movement, to withdraw its candidates

Saad Hariri announces his departure from politics
Saad Hariri announces his departure from politics, in Beirut.WAEL HAMZEHEFE
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“History Judge”. With the weight of this sentence and in tears, the former Lebanese Prime Minister and Sun leader Saad Hariri announced this Monday a drastic decision: to leave politics. The veteran leader puts an end to his political path and calls on the ranks of his party, the Future Movement (Al Mustaqbal), to join him. “I am convinced that there is no room for any positive opportunity for Lebanon, in light of the Iranian influence, the international confusion, the national division, the sectarianism and the erosion of the country.”

Hariri took a step forward in politics in 2005, after the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri, who had been head of government just after the end of his term. civil war. Standing on a lectern with his photo behind it and the Lebanese flag, the son has remembered his father. “After the assassination of the martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, it was my turn to continue with his political project,” he said, visibly moved. A political trail that he has summed up in two ideas: “First, to prevent civil war in Lebanon and second, a better life. For the Lebanese, I was successful in the first and I was not successful enough in the second.”

In a speech before his comrades and broadcast on television, the leader announced that will not stand in the next parliamentary elections, planned in principle for spring. His wish is also that the party does not present candidates for these elections, for the first time in three decades. With Hariri’s dismissal, Lebanon loses one of its main political leaders and a frequent candidate to preside over the Executive, which, according to the laws of distribution of power between the different religious communities of the country, is devoted to the Sun community.

Hariri, 50 years old, has headed the Lebanese government three times. The first, between 2009 and 2011, while his second term lasted between 2016 and 2019. Just in October of that year he had to resign, besieged by popular protests that demanded the renewal of a political caste buried in corruption. The country then rushed towards the economic colapso, deepened by the explosion that devastated much of Beirut in August 2020, causing more than 200 deaths and 6,500 injuries. The tragedy forced the resignation of the government of Hasan Diab, and Hariri returned to action to lead a government, but finally found himself unable to form a cabinet due to the blockade of the Shia and Christian factions and resigned from the post.

A historic ally of Saudi Arabia, Hariri has experienced a distancing from Riyadh in recent years that has also been reflected in diplomatic clashes between the two nations. The context in the Middle East, where the rivalry between the petro-monarchies of the Gulf and Iran is measured in the war in Yemen and the isolation of Qatar, has Lebanon as a hostage. There, the divisions between pro and anti-Iranian keep local politics captive, where the Shia Hezbul party is dominant thanks to its parliamentary majority and its alliance with President Michel Aoun, of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement party. Hariri’s departure from the political scene leaves the sun camp, of which he was the most influential leader, an orphan. Names do not sound, at the moment, for his relief.

“We will remain at the service of our people, our people and our country, but our decision is to suspend any role or direct responsibility in authority, prosecution and politics in its traditional sense, and we will remain in our position as citizens who adhere to Rafik Hariri’s project to prevent civil war and work for a better life for all Lebanese”, Hariri said goodbye.

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