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Hariri quits, casting Lebanon into further uncertainty

The prime minister-designate announced he was stepping down, 10 weeks after fruitless negotiations to form a new government.

Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman (l.) meets with prime minister-designate Saad Hariri at Beiteddine palace in Beiteddine village, Mount Lebanon on Thursday. Hariri said he was stepping down after more than 10 weeks of trying to form a unity government with opposition groups including Hezbollah.

Dalati Nohra/ Reuters

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Saad Hariri, Lebanon's prime minister-designate, announced Thursday he was stepping down and abandoning efforts to form a coalition government after more than 10 weeks of fruitless negotiations.

His decision casts Lebanon into renewed political uncertainty, requiring a fresh set of consultations between Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and members of parliament to designate a new premier.

"After a final round of negotiations, it became clear to me that some [parties], with their impossible demands, are in no way going to allow the proposed cabinet lineup to pass," Mr. Hariri said, apparently referring to the Free Patriotic Movement, a key member of the parliamentary opposition led by Michel Aoun.

Hariri's decision to stand down comes as little surprise, and it is possible that he will be reappointed in the coming days. Fouad Siniora, the outgoing prime minister, and Samir Geagea, one of Hariri's key allies, both said they would designate Hariri again.

"The game is completely open again," says a source close to Hariri, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Hariri is pondering his interest in being nominated again. He will consult with his parliamentary bloc and his allies and then we will see."

Why the negotiations have stalled


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