Lebanon PM designate to hold talks on formation of crisis cabinet within two weeks

Lebanon's newly-appointed Prime Minister Mustapha Adib (C) visits Beirut's badly-hit Gemmayzeh neighbourhood. (File photo: AFP)

Lebanon’s prime minister designate was to kick off talks Wednesday on forming a crisis government within two weeks to begin enacting desperately needed reforms in the disaster-hit country.

Government formation is usually a drawn-out process in multi-confessional Lebanon where a complex political system seeks to share power between different religious groups.

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But a traumatic explosion at Beirut port last month has created intense pressure for swift reforms to lift the country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.

The last government, only in power since the start of the year, resigned in the wake of the August 4 explosion that killed at least 188, wounded thousands and laid waste to entire districts of the capital.

With the clock ticking, prime minister designate Mustapha Adib was to meet the parliament speaker, former prime ministers and parliamentary bloc representatives.

Lebanon lawmakers rushed to approve the nomination of the little-known 48-year-old diplomat Monday on the eve of a high-profile visit by French President Emmanuel Macron.

French President Emmanuel Macron meets members of the military mobilised for the reconstruction of the port of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon September 1, 2020. (Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron meets members of the military mobilised for the reconstruction of the port of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon September 1, 2020. (Reuters)

Visiting to mark the centenary of the former French protectorate, Macron Tuesday said all sides had pledged to help Adib form a cabinet within two weeks.

He promised to host two conferences in Paris in the second half of October – one to help drum up aid and the other to discuss political reform.

He said he would be back in Lebanon in December for a progress report.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, was due in Lebanon Wednesday to “urge Lebanese leaders to implement reforms that respond to the Lebanese people’s desire for transparency, accountability, and a government free of corruption”, the embassy said.

A protest movement, which has taken to the streets since last October demanding the ouster of the political elite, has already rejected Adib’s nomination.

Hundreds protested on Tuesday evening demanding a secular state to replace the decades-old sectarian system, with clashes erupting in the evening between some demonstrators and security forces.

Lebanon’s worst economic crunch since the 1975-1990 civil war has seen poverty rates double to more than half the population, sent prices soaring and trapped people’s savings in the banks.

Read more:

Lebanese leaders promise new govt in two weeks; Macron threatens sanctions

Lebanon: Clashes erupt in downtown Beirut between demonstrators, security forces

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Last Update: Wednesday, 02 September 2020 KSA 09:59 - GMT 06:59
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