Former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference in front of a picture of his late father Rafic Hariri, at his house in Beirut. 24 January, 2022. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The former prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, announced on 24 January that he will take a break from politics and will not participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Hariri, who has held the office of prime minister three times, claimed his decision is due to a lack of space “for any positive opportunity for Lebanon in light of Iranian influence, international disarray, national division, sectarianism, and the collapse of the state.”
لأنني مقتنع ان لا مجال لأي فرصة إيجابية للبنان في ظل النفوذ الايراني والتخبط الدولي، والانقسام الوطني واستعار الطائفية واهتراء الدولة، اعلن تعليق العمل بالحياة السياسية ودعوة عائلتي في #تيار_المستقبل لاتخاذ الخطوة نفسها. pic.twitter.com/o5LWwL9AFP
— Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) January 24, 2022
He also urged his political party, the Future Movement, not to field candidates in the legislative elections slated for 22 May 2022.
Hariri has been at the helm of the Future Movement for more than 15 years, ever since he took over the party when his father, an influential politician and billionaire businessman was assassinated with a truck bomb in Beirut on February 2005.
Hariri first became prime minister in 2009, leading the March 14 Alliance made up of different political parties. During this administration he formed a unity government that included Hezbollah and its allies.
However, the government collapsed in 2011 when Hezbollah withdrew from the cabinet.
In 2017, during his second stint as prime minister, he was held hostage and forced to resign from his post by Saudi authorities during a visit to the kingdom.
When he was eventually freed and returned home, he rescinded his forced resignation. The move upset Saudi Arabia and the kingdom cut ties with Hariri.
He remained in office however until 2019, when he was again forced to step down when the country was rocked by mass protests against the ruling class. In October 2020 Hariri was designated as prime minister but stepped down in July 2021 after months of failing to form a cabinet.
The political influence that Hariri has enjoyed for years has waned in recent years.
His resignation from political life comes at a time when Lebanon is under going through tumultuous period. In addition to deep divisions between the main political actors, the country is also going through an economic crisis described by the World Bank as the worst of the modern era.
This economic crisis, which has seen the currency lose more than 90 percent of its value, has been exacerbated by a strain in relations between Beirut and several gulf nations.