Lebanon was to start consultations Monday to name a new premier, with the envoy to Berlin emerging as a front-runner, as French President Emmanuel Macron was to visit the disaster-hit country.
Adib, a relatively unknown 48-year-old diplomat and close aide to former prime minister Najib Mikati, has received backing from the country’s Sunni Muslim political heavyweights, including the Future Movement party headed by former premier Saad Hariri.
Adib still needs to be formally endorsed during Monday’s consultations, but President Michel Aoun and Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement have both vowed to agree on any nominee supported by the country’s top Sunni political figures.
Under multi-confessional Lebanon’s political system, the premier must be a Sunni, the presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian and the post of parliamentary speaker goes to a Shiite.
Consultations to name a new prime minister were set to start at 0600 GMT in the presidential palace in Baabda near Beirut, with a meeting between the president and former premier Mikati, who was expected to name Adib.
The president was expected to conclude consultations at 1015 GMT, according to the National News Agency.
– ‘Deep change’ –
Lebanon’s last government, headed by Hassan Diab, resigned after the massive explosion of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed at least 188 people, wounded thousands and laid waste to large parts of the capital.
Those who have taken to the streets in mass protests since October 17 against the politicians they deem corrupt and inept have already rejected any name that might emerge from the parliamentary consultations.
Macron will be in Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday for his second visit since the massive explosion.
Macron weeks ago warned that Lebanese leaders have a “huge” responsibility — “that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change”.
On Friday, he spoke of the “constraints of a confessional system” in a country populated by Christians, Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
“If we let Lebanon go in the region and if we somehow leave it in the hands of the depravity of regional powers, it will be civil war,” Macron said.
Adib holds a PhD in political science and taught at a Lebanese university before being named in 2013 as Lebanon’s ambassador in Germany.