Diplomat asked to form new government in crisis-hit Lebanon

Diplomat asked to form new government in crisis-hit Lebanon
Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Mustapha Adib (AP/Bilal Hussein)

A Lebanese diplomat has been appointed to form a new government in the crisis-hit country after winning the backing of major political parties.

President Michel Aoun asked Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, to form a new government after he secured 90 votes in the 128-member parliament.

The consultations were being held hours before French President Emmanuel Macron was due to arrive for a two-day visit, during which he is expected to press Lebanese officials to formulate a new political pact to lift the country out of its multiple crises.

At least 190 people died and 6,000 were injured in an explosion on August 4, which devastated the city’s port and caused widespread damage to residential and commercial areas in the capital.

The government resigned less than a week after the blast.

Mustapha Adib said his number one priority will be to implement reforms to regain the trust of the Lebanese and international community (AP/Bilal Hussein)

Mr Adib told reporters his number one priority will be to quickly form a government able to implement crucial reforms to regain the trust of the Lebanese and international community.

He said he will form a Cabinet of experts and will work with parliament to “put the country on track of improvement and to end the dangerous financial, economic and social drainage”.

“The opportunity in front of our country is narrow, and the mission that I accepted is based on all political groups knowing that. The government should be formed very quickly,” he added.

Mr Macron and other world leaders as well as the International Monetary Fund have refused to give assistance to Lebanon before its leaders enact major reforms. The swift consensus around Mr Adib, a little known diplomat, signalled a sense of urgency by Lebanon’s traditional politicians to try and contain the rapidly worsening economic and financial crisis and show movement ahead of Mr Macron’s visit.

Former prime minister Saad Hariri emerged from his meeting with Mr Aoun telling reporters his 18-member bloc had given its backing to Mr Adib. He called for the formation of a government of experts “that implement reforms aimed at restoring the world’s confidence in our economy so we can start to emerge from this crisis”.

Mr Adib, who returned from Germany to Lebanon on Saturday, was the only name to emerge as a favourite for the post of prime minister, who according to Lebanon’s sectarian-based power sharing system has to be a Sunni Muslim. The candidate who gets the most support is asked to form the new cabinet, but Lebanon’s divided political class has often been bogged down over who holds senior posts and key ministries.

Mr Adib was named by four former prime ministers, including Mr Hariri, on the eve of Monday’s consultations.

Earlier on Sunday, the head of the powerful Hezbollah militant group, Hassan Nasrallah, said his supporters will co-operate and facilitate the formation of a government that would be able to improve economic conditions and undertake major reforms.

The Iran-backed militant group, which has a dominant role in Lebanon’s politics, has come under intense criticism and public scrutiny as the country faces multiple devastating crises. Hezbollah and its allies were also expected to name Mr Adib.

Even before the explosion, an unprecedented economic crisis had already sapped the Lebanese currency of more than 80% of its value, driving unemployment, poverty and inflation through the roof.

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