Ex-PM Saad Al Hariri's announcement to boycott elections and to quit politics opens a new phase in Lebanon's politics and adds to the uncertainties in a country that is already facing a financial meltdown.

Western states want the vote to go ahead on time.
Western states want the vote to go ahead on time. (Reuters)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he saw no reason for a delay to parliamentary elections in May after three-times former prime minister Saad Al Hariri announced he was boycotting the vote and stepping away from politics.

"I emphasised to His Eminence the Mufti the role played by the honourable Sunni community in preserving Lebanon's unity and political diversity, and the importance of participation with all components of Lebanon in national and political life," Aoun said on Saturday.

"We are carrying out all the necessary preparations for holding the elections on time, and I do not see any reason for delaying them," the Maronite Christian president continued.

READ MORE: Lebanon's former PM Saad Hariri quits politics

The other Hariri

Hariri has been Lebanon's leading Sunni Muslim politician since inheriting the mantle of his father, Rafik Al Hariri, after his assassination in 2005.

A boycott by Hariri and his Future Movement will affect the 20 seats they won in 2018, and many more won by other groups in local alliances with Future.

On Friday, Saad's older brother, Bahaa, signalled he was entering politics with plans to support candidates.

Bahaa has been fiercely critical of Hezbollah, and the compromising approach adopted by Saad towards the group in the later years of his career.

Together with its allies, the Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah won a parliamentary majority in 2018.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies