Not so merry go-round

Key events in PM Saad Hariri’s tenure

Reading Time: 7 minutes

2016

October 20

Saad Hariri endorses presidential bid of Michel Aoun.

October 31

Aoun, backed by Hezbollah, is elected president of Lebanon, ending a two-year stalemate.

November 3

Hariri named as prime minister, promises a new, just electoral law.

December 19

Hariri begins his second tenure as PM, forming a 30 minister cabinet that includes all political parties with the exception of the Kataeb party.

2017

March 23

Cabinet approves first budget in 12 years.

April 4

PM Hariri attends Brussels Conference I  on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region to receive international aid for refugees in Lebanon.

June 16

New electoral law passes.

October 20

Cabinet commissions McKinsey & Co. to develop the Lebanese Economic Vision for the value of $1.3 million in time for the Paris donor conference (later named CEDRE) in April.

October 25

US Senate passes new sanctions against Hezbollah. 

October 30

PM Hariri visits the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman.

November 3

PM Hariri meets with international affairs advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei. 

November 4

Reading a televised statement, Hariri resigns as PM of Lebanon from Riyadh citing the overextension of Iran in the region and fears of assassination.

November 12

PM Hariri is interviewed by Future TV on the reasons behind his questionable resignation adding he will be returning to Lebanon shortly.

November 17

After spending a fortnight in Saudi Arabia allegedly discussing Iran’s policies in Lebanon and the region, President Emmanuel Macron invites PM Hariri and his family to France to discuss the region’s political climate.

November 21

PM Hariri arrives to Lebanon after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.

November 22

After meeting with President Aoun, PM Hariri postpones his resignation.

December 4

PM Hariri withdraws his resignation stating that this decision is based on the agreement that all members of the government stay out of the affairs of other Arab countries.

December 8

PM Hariri attends a meeting with the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG), chaired by the United Nations and France.

2018

January 12

PM Hariri states that the 2018 budget will not include new taxes.

February 18

Council of Ministers forms committee headed by Hariri to study budget figures.

March 12

President Aoun signs draft state budget decree referring it to Parliament.

March 14

Rome II donor conference is held to secure funding from France aimed at empowering the Lebanese Army and other national security institutes.

March 29

Lebanon passes 2018 budget.

April 6

> PM Hariri attends CEDRE in Paris, with the government’s Capital Investment Plan in tow. 
> Donors pledge $11 billion dollars toward infrastructure projects in Lebanon, On condition of fiscal reform.

April 18

President Aoun signs 2018 state budget law.

April 24

> PM Hariri attends Brussels II to meet with EU officials who pledged to grant Lebanon part of 560 million euros in refugee aid.
> President Aoun calls caretaker-speaker Nabih Berri to reconsider article 49 of state budget law which provides temporary residency for foreigners who buy property in Lebanon.

April 26

Constitutional Council suspends article 49 of budget law.

May 6

Parliamentary elections take place under new electoral law.

May 7

> Electoral results give Gebran Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) the biggest bloc in Parliament, with 29 seats.
> Future loses seats, securing only 20.

May 12

PM-designate Hariri dissolves Future Movement’s electoral body, electoral machine, coordinating branches in Beirut, Western and Middle Bekaa, Koura and Zgharta.

May 22

Cabinet approves plan to save electricity sector in accordance with Energy Minister’s proposals.

May 23

Nabih Berri is reelected as Speaker of Parliament, Elie Ferzli as his deputy.

May 24

PM-designate Saad Hariri commissioned to form new government.

May 28

Deliberations to form new government begin.

July 17

Parliament elects 17 committees.

August 9

PM-designate Hariri and Parliament Speaker Berri meet to discuss cabinet formation. Hariri states after the meeting that delays in government formation have been the result of a competition for shares in the coming cabinet.

September 3

PM-designate Hariri announces that a national unity government lineup has been handed to President Aoun.

September 10

President Aoun from Strasbourg: Government will be formed soon as a balanced formula is reached. No sect should monopolize representation or marginalize any side.

October 9

PM-designate Hariri says that Lebanon’s economic situation calls for the immediate formation of the government within the next 10 days. The FPM and Lebanese Forces continue to argue over their shares.

December 14

After seven months of political deadlock, members of the Sabaa Party block the entrances of the ministries of labor, social affairs, and industry to protest the delay in government formation.

December 16

Around a thousand people march from Hamra to Riad el-Solh protesting against government policies and the economic situation in a demonstration organized by the Lebanese Communist Party and the Popular Nasserite Organization. 

2019

January 7

McKinsey’s LEV is made public by Caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury, as a push from the ministry to accelerate government formation. Says the delay in publishing is the result of the delay in government formation.

January 19

The Arab League Economic and Social Development summit takes place in Beirut despite rumors of postponing due to disputes between Lebanese parties over the normalization of relations with the Syrian government.

January 31

PM Hariri forms a new 30-minister government, after eight months of deliberations.

February 18

First meeting after government formation is held with the Economic and Social Council to tackle the next steps into implementing CEDRE which included discussions of a 22-point economic plan needed to unlock funds.

February 25

First ever EU and Arab League Summit in Egypt kicks off with PM Hariri heading the Lebanese delegation in Sharm el-Sheikh.

March 5

Ministry of Finance hands over all the statements and documents necessary for the Court of Audit to audit the public accounts starting from 1993 until 2017.

April 8

Council of Ministers adopts a new electricity policy paper, aimed at reforming the sector.

April 17

PM-Hariri calls for the implementation of a harsh austerity budget for 2019.

July 9

The US sanctions Hezbollah lawmakers. 

July 19

State budget with austerity measures is passed, four months past its deadline.

September 20

PM Hariri suspends Future TV due to financial troubles. Over 350 workers lose their jobs after being on strike since July 30 for not receiving their salaries for 24 months.

September 26

Interchangeable currency transactions on ATMs are stopped with no official statement from the Association of Banks.

September 30

The New York Times publishes an article on Hariri gifting South African model Candace van der Merwe $16 million in 2013.

October 13

125 wild fires break out across Mount Lebanon over two days with around 1300 acres burned. Three Sikorsky firefighting helicopters donated to the government in 2009 could not be used as they were not maintained.

October 17

Reports of a WhatsApp tax ignite nationwide protests, reports of burning tires and road closures across Lebanon. 

October 18

> Protests continue nationwide with schools and banks ordered to close until the early hours of the next morning, when security forces start firing tear gas and protesters move out of Downtown.
> PM Hariri holds a press conference announcing a 72-hour deadline for the passing of the long overdue economic
reform plan.
> Protests continue nationwide calling for the fall of the regime.

October 19

> Hezbollah addresses protesters saying that Lebanon cannot afford the time to form a new government.
> Lebanese Forces announces the resignation of its four ministers, marking the first tangible success of protesters’ demands.

October 21

PM Hariri announces a list of 17 reforms approved by cabinet that propose to cut the deficit and expedite administrative reforms without increasing taxes on the people.

October 24

President Aoun addresses the public for the first time since the beginning of the protests pushing the idea that PM Hariri’s economic reform plan will save Lebanon.

October 29

PM Hariri resigns.

October 31

President Aoun addresses the nation with a televised speech vowing to work toward a civil state and promising to implement a unified Personal Status law.

November 1

Banks open their doors.

November 3

> President Aoun and son-in-law Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil address Pro-FPM demonstrators gathered in front of Baabda palace in large numbers.
> Tens of thousands of anti-establishment protesters gather in Downtown Beirut and all around the country.

November 5

> Moody’s Investors Service downgrades Lebanon’s credit rating from Caa1 to Caa2.
> Road closures were forced open by the Lebanese Army on the 20th day of protesting. 

November 6

> US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: Iraq and Lebanon deserve to set their own courses free from Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei.
> School and university students embark on nationwide protests after a threat that came from the headmaster of a school in Saida against student participation, citing repercussions would be expulsion and the inability to sit for their official exams.

November 7

Ex-PM Fouad Siniora questioned for hours about $11 billion missing from state funds. 

November 8

Lawsuit filed against Caretaker FM Gebran Bassil for charges of embezzlement, money laundering and illicit enrichment. 

November 12

President Aoun: “If they [protesters] do not like it and there is not a single decent person in power, then they should go and emigrate.” Thousands take to the streets in anger after Aoun’s televised interview to denounce the emigration statement made, with one protester, Alaa Abou Fakhr shot dead during an altercation with an army colonel and the driver of the colonel’s car. 

November 15

Ex-Minister MohammadSafadi is touted as a candidate for PM, he is rejected by anti-establishment protesters.

November 17

> Melhem Khalaf, an independent candidate is elected president of the Beirut Bar Association.
> Uprising’s one month anniversary.

November 19

Protesters block all entrances to Parliament and prevent a legislative session they deem unconstitutional. The session was to include passing of a controversial general amnesty law. 

November 22

> In celebration of National Independence Day, protesters organize a civil independence parade, marching from several meeting points in Beirut toward Martyr’s Square. 
> In the official celebration, a military parade is held on Ministry of Defense grounds in the Beirut suburb of Yarze in presence of President Aoun, House Speaker Berri, caretaker-PM Hariri, and General Joseph  Aoun, commanding officer of the Lebanese Armed Forces. 

November 25

Pro-Hezbollah and Amal protesters violently clash with anti-establishment protesters on the Fouad Chehab bridge, known as “the ring” and burn down their tents in Martyr’s Square. 

December 6

Businessman Samir Khatib withdraws his candidacy for PM just three days after he received public support from Caretaker PM Hariri and FM Bassil and one day prior to a consulations to select a new PM.

December 19

Former education minister Hassan Diab is named PM after securing 69 MP votes in the Parliamentary consultations. Diab is supported by Hezbollah, FPM, and the Amal Movement.

Sources: The Daily Star, NNA, and Megaphone

Sarah Shaar

Sarah is the deputy and online editor of Executive Magazine.

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