Lebanese leaders form government after 13 months of stagnation

Lebanese factions formed a new government on Friday, breaking a 13-month stalemate that caused the country to sink further into financial chaos and poverty.

Lebanon has been without a fully empowered government since the catastrophic August 4, 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut, which forced the government of then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab to resign. Rival political groups had been embroiled in a disagreement over the composition of a new government ever since, hastening the country’s economic collapse.

The new cabinet of 24 ministers headed by billionaire businessman Najib Mikati was announced by the office of the president, and later by the secretary general of the Council of Ministers, Mahmoud Makkieh. The ministers were elected by the same politicians who have ruled the country for decades and whose corruption and mismanagement many blame for the country’s current crisis.

The new government announced on Friday faces a daunting task that few believe can be overcome, including carrying out vital reforms. His first jobs will be overseeing a financial audit of the Central Bank and resuming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package to halt the country’s collapse. The new cabinet is also expected to oversee the general elections scheduled for next year.

Mikati, a business magnate from the northern city of Tripoli and one of the richest men in Lebanon, was commissioned to form a new government in July. He is widely considered part of the same political class that led the country to bankruptcy. He served as prime minister in 2005 and from 2011 to 2013.

It was not immediately clear which last-minute engagement resulted in Friday’s breakthrough. The announcement of a new government comes after recent pressure from the United States and France to form a cabinet, after Lebanon’s economic meltdown reached a critical point with a crippling shortage of fuel and drugs that threatened to close hospitals, bakeries. and Internet of the country.

The currency has lost 90 percent of its value against the dollar since October 2019, fueling hyperinflation and plunging more than half the population into poverty.

Mikati became a favorite for the position after most of Lebanon’s political parties backed him, including the powerful Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah and the other major Shiite party, Amal, led by Speaker of Parliament Nabih. Berri. Mikati also received backing from former Sunni prime ministers, including former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who abandoned efforts to form a government earlier this year after failing to reach an agreement with President Michel Aoun on the composition of the cabinet.

International calls for Lebanese leaders to form a new government have risen, but the international community has refused to help Lebanon financially before sweeping reforms are put in place to combat widespread corruption and mismanagement.

(AP)

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