Beirut, Lebanon (CNN)Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was toppled in a popular uprising nearly one year ago, has been tasked with forming the crisis-plagued country's next government.
Protesters wanted change but Lebanon's elite picks veteran Saad Hariri to lead crisis-wracked country
He faces the grueling task of forming a cabinet in a country still reeling from the aftermath of a massive explosion that ripped through the capital in August. The country is mired in a financial meltdown, political infighting and widespread anger at Beirut's ruling elite.
In a speech Thursday after his appointment as prime minister-designate, Hariri said he would move quickly to form a new government "because the time is running out and this is our beloved country's last and only chance."
"I tell the Lebanese people, who are facing despairing hardships, I say that I am dedicated to my promise to them to work on stopping the collapse that is threatening our economy, our security, and to rebuild the destruction of the terrible port explosion in Beirut," said Hariri.
Hariri said he would build an apolitical and technocratic government to enact wide-ranging reforms. The move puts him at loggerheads with opponents in the country's Hezbollah-backed parliamentary majority who have repeatedly rejected proposals to create a cabinet of technocrats.
If Hariri succeeds in creating the next government, he will be taking on the premiership for a fourth time. A staple of the country's political class, Hariri is the son of the assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and is the most high-profile Sunni Muslim political leader in Lebanon.
Lebanon's political system allots the post of prime minister to a Sunni Muslim, and Hariri's return will be met with dismay by many anti-establishment protesters who have called for an end to the country's power-sharing system.
Hariri is perhaps best-known internationally for his shock resignation of the premiership in 2017 during a trip to Saudi Arabia. His resignation was widely believed to have been coerced by Saudi Arabia, where he was reportedly detained upon arrival in Riyadh. Hariri and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly denied those claims, and weeks later, he recanted his resignation.
The former prime minister, who shunned the premiership for most of the last year after stepping down, has vowed to push through reforms endorsed by the international community and dictated by French President Emmanuel Macron during his two visits to Beirut in recent months.