BEIRUT - Lebanese lawmakers designated Prime Minister Saad Hariri for a third term in office Thursday, less than three weeks after elections that saw his movement lose ground in parliament.

“The head of state summoned prime minister Saad Hariri and tasked him with forming a government,” said a statement posted on social media by the office of President Michel Aoun.

The presidency made the announcement after Hariri, 48, was endorsed by a vast majority of members of parliament after only a few hours of consultations. Hariri said in a statement that he would seek to form a new government as quickly as possible in order to implement some of the reforms pledged earlier this year to secure key foreign aid.

“I thank all my fellow deputies who entrusted me with forming a new government, hoping we will do so as soon as possible for the benefit of Lebanon and the Lebanese,” he said.

Speaking to reporters before leaving the presidential palace, he reaffirmed his policy of “disassociation”, a term used to describe efforts to keep Lebanon out of the region’s conflicts.

“The new government will need to consolidate its policy of disassociation and continue efforts to face the refugee crisis,” he said.

The small Middle eastern country has seen its population increase by a third with the influx of refugees pouring in from neighbouring Syria, which has been torn by war for seven years.

A conference dubbed CEDRE and held in Paris in April raised $11 billion in low-interest loans and aid for Lebanon, whose public debt stands at 150 percent of gross domestic product, the world’s third highest rate behind Japan and Greece.

Hariri’s Future movement lost a third of its seats on May 6, when Lebanon held its first legislative election in nine years and voters reinforced the weight of the Shia group Hezbollah and its allies.

The Iran-backed party, the only group to have kept its weapons after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, and its allies control more than half of parliament’s 128 seats.

That is expected to protect the US terror-listed organisation from attempts to push for its disarmament, a cause long championed by Hariri and his Sunni-dominated bloc.

While Hezbollah had been content in recent years exercising its influence on the government via second-tier portfolios and its political allies, observers predict it will this time ask for bigger ministries.

The movement’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to give a televised speech on Friday.

Lebanon’s unique sectarian power-sharing arrangements provide for parliament to be split equally between Christians and Muslims and stipulate that the president be Maronite, the premier Sunni and the speaker Shia.

Speaker Nabih Berri, who has held the position since 1992, was given a new term on Wednesday.

Hariri has been prime minister since December 2016 and served his first term from 2009 to 2011. His father, who was assassinated in 2005, also served two terms between 1992 and 2004.