UN laments Lebanon’s lack of progress in forming new govt as situation deteriorates

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The United Nations Security Council is concerned about the lack of progress in forming a new Lebanese government as the socio-economic situation further deteriorates, a statement from a senior UN diplomat said Wednesday.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis briefed the UNSC Tuesday on the recent developments in Lebanon, which faces an unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

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The coronavirus pandemic has also forced the country to impose a second nationwide lockdown after a surge in new cases.

However, politicians continue to bicker over shares in a new government. Since August, after Hassan Diab stepped down following the Aug. 4 Port of Beirut blast, Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government.

No officials have been held accountable for the explosions that killed more than 200 people and injured over 6,000 more. President Michel Aoun has refused an international investigation into the blast.

Kubis lamented the lack of clarity on the investigation and called for an “impartial, thorough and transparent investigation to ensure accountability, justice and help prevent such tragedies from recurring.”

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government last month, but so far has been unable to do so.

“Security Council members echoed concern at the lack of progress on the formation of the government despite the country’s pressing challenges and increasing problems,” a statement from Kubis read on Wednesday.

“Expressing solidarity with the Lebanese people, they underscored the need for Lebanon’s leaders to form without further delay a competent Government capable of swiftly delivering indispensable reform, which was key for future international assistance,” Kubis said.

But Kubis “noted with grave concern” the deepening socio-economic crisis and collapse in Lebanon.

He said it was quickly pushing “growing numbers of Lebanese and refugees in deep poverty and food insecurity without a functioning social protection system, all that exacerbated by the exponential growth of Covid-19 pandemics that puts additional stress on already overstretched health and educational sectors.”

According to the UNSC, one bright spot was the recent launch of indirect talks between Lebanese and Israeli officials in an effort to demarcate their disputed maritime boundaries. Washington is brokering the discussions being held at a UN office in south Lebanon.

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