Newly elected Aoun in talks to select Lebanon's new PM
Supporters of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement celebrate the election of their leader MP Michel Aoun (portrait) in the town of Jdeideh north of Beirut on October 31, 2016. (AFP/Marwan Tahtah)
Lebanon’s newly elected president, Michel Aoun, launched a series of consultations with political leaders on Wednesday to select the country’s new prime minister.
"We desire to continue the progress of our start by forming a national unity government led by [former Prime Minister Saad] Hariri. I return the custodianship to its owner," outgoing Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who kicked off talks with Aoun, told reporters.
Ex-Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former premiers followed in for separate talks with Aoun to name their nominee.
Mikati said that Aoun's oath after his elections as the country's 13th president "complies with our aspirations and proposals." He also named Hariri for the post.
The country’s top leaders and parliamentary bloc will arrive gradually at the Baabda Palace to discuss the matter with Aoun and name their candidate.
The meetings are scheduled to conclude on Thursday with Speaker Nabih Berri’s Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc.
Former PM Saad Hariri is widely expected to be named premier after Aoun wraps up two days of binding consultations with various parliamentary blocs to poll them on their choice for a prime minister.
Normally, the President starts his consultations with the Parliament Speaker, but Berri reportedly asked to meet with Aoun at the end of his talks with the country’s factions over security reasons.
Salam’s 24-member Cabinet is now serving in a caretaker capacity following the election of Aoun on Monday with absolute majority.
Salam's Cabinet, formed in 2013, after ex-PM Najib Mikati's Cabinet resigned.