Saad Hariri: I won't work with a sectarian and racist Gibran Bassil

Although they worked closely in the government before 2018's election, the pair have fallen out over recent political shifts

In this photo released by Lebanese government, Lebanese outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures during his meeting with his parliamentary bloc, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. Lebanon's President Michel Aoun was holding long-delayed talks with parliamentary blocs Thursday to discuss the naming of a new prime minister amid an unprecedented political and economic crisis and weeks of nationwide protests roiling the country. (Dalati Nohra via AP)

In the most stinging criticism yet, Caretaker Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri has said he would not work again with caretaker foreign minister Gibran Bassil, labelling the Free Patriotic Movement head “sectarian” and “racist.”

"How can you work with someone who is always insulting you? How can you work with such people whose speech is sectarian and racist,” Hariri asked a group of reporters on Tuesday. "I will not work again with Gebran Bassil, unless he moderates [his language and policies]."

Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The Future Movement leader and Mr Bassil have worked closely in recent years, however splits over his policies began to emerge shortly after the election in 2018. They deepened in recent months as Mr Hariri reportedly tried to assemble a technocratic government but Mr Bassil refused to back any government that did not include him as a member.

The caretaker foreign minister has been the centre of much of the public’s anger in the ongoing two-month protests.

He is often criticised for demeaning and racist anti-refugee sentiment as well as being sectarian in his speeches.

Mr Hariri also again ruled the Future Movement out of the next administration, saying "I will not be represented, take part in or cover the new government. If required, I will not give it a vote of confidence."

PM-designate Hassan Diab was nominated on December 19 to begin trying to form the next administration and ease public anger.