4 Lebanese Parties Agree to Back Former Finance Chief Safadi as PM
With support from four major parties, former finance minister Mohammad Safadi is now considered the leading candidate to replace Saad al-Hariri as prime minister of Lebanon, three sources familiar with the situation said, suggesting progress toward the formation of a new government at a time of acute economic crisis. Harari, facing nationwide protests against government corruption and mismanagement, widespread unemployment, sectarianism, and foreign influence, resigned on October 29. Support for Safadi emerged as the consensus position in a meeting late Thursday between Hariri, a Sunni, representing the Future Movement and aligned with the Gulf states and the West; and representatives of the Shi’ite groups Hizbullah and Amal. The Free Patriotic Movement, headed by President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian ally of Hizbullah, also supports Safadi as prime minister. Safadi, 75, is a Sunni businessman from Tripoli and former parliamentarian, finance minister, and economy minister. His wife, Violette, served in Hariri’s government as minister of state for the economic empowerment of women and youth. Hariri previously said he would return to the premiership on condition that he head a government of technocrats who could put the country on a more stable and successful economic path. But Aoun and the Shi’ite groups Hizbullah and Amal wanted a government of both technocrats and politicians.