A year after Lebanon was rocked by huge protests against its entrenched ruling elite, politicians have picked the same prime minister who was pushed out then to lead it out of crisis now. Saad al-Hariri, a three-time prime minister and heir to a wealthy dynasty, has been Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician since the killing of his father in 2005. He stood down last year when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to rally against a political class that they accuse of milking the state for decades. At the time, Hariri said his efforts to seal agreement on badly needed reforms had hit a dead end, blocked by sectarian divisions and vested interests, and only the “big shock” of his resignation as prime minister could break the deadlock. Nationwide protests persisted, demanding the overthrow of a political class which demonstrators blame for pillaging the state and pushing it into crisis. “All of them means all of them,” they chanted. In the months that followed, a former academic and a diplomat both struggled to lead or even form technocrat governments to steer the country in a new direction. Almost exactly a year later, after escalating catastrophes including a banking crisis and currency crash, a dramatic rise in poverty and a huge explosion at Beirut’s port, Hariri says he is the “natural candidate” to lead Lebanon. On Thursday, he pledged to form a government of specialists “with a mission to enact economic and financial reforms” – reforms that President Emmanuel Macron of France, Lebanon’s former colonial power, set out for unlocking foreign aid. POLITICAL RIVALRIES But rifts that obstructed change during his last term in office look set to plague his efforts to form his fourth government. The two main Christian political blocs, the Free Patriotic Movement led by the president’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil, and its rival the Lebanese Forces, refused to back his nomination. The heavily armed Shi’ite Hezbollah group did not name anyone but said it would work “positively” towards forming a government. Iran-backed Hezbollah and its political allies, including the Shi’ite Amal party and the FPM, won a majority of MPs in 2018 elections.