Lebanon's Saad Hariri said Wednesday he would not seek to stay on as prime minister, ahead of much-delayed consultations to give the protest-wracked country a new government.
Fifty days after unprecedented nationwide demonstrations against Lebanon's reviled political elite forced him to step down, the caretaker premier had looked like he might attempt to keep his seat.
But he said his name was drawing too much opposition for him to be a candidate when official consultations to pick a new line-up begin on Thursday.
"I have strived to meet their demand for a government of experts, which I saw as the only option to address the serious social and economic crisis our country faces," he said.
"I announce I will not be a candidate to form the next government," Hariri said in a statement.
Lebanon's economy has been sliding towards default in recent weeks but the main political parties have so far failed to respond to calls from the street and international partners by forming a credible cabinet capable of undertaking key reforms.
Saad Hariri stepped down as prime minister in October after unprecedented protests against Lebanon's elite