Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician, reemerged as a candidate for prime minister when businessman Samir Khatib withdrew his candidacy on 8 December, hours before he was expected to be named as the official candidate.

Last week, Hariri withdrew his candidacy amid protests against the corruption of the ruling political elite they accuse for the economic and financial crisis. He backed Khatib to become his successor, but protesters rejected him, saying he was too close to the elite.

After the latest announcement, demonstrators gathered again to protest the way the government is being formed and the delays in choosing a candidate.

According to Lebanon’s political system, the president has to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister should be a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shia. Cabinet and parliament seats are equally split between Christians and Muslims.

To satisfy protesters, Hariri has said he would return as prime minister only if he could lead a government of specialist ministers: “I will not nominate political personalities but experts”, he said.

His demand, however, has been rejected by the demonstrators, who say the government must include politicians.