As parliamentary blocs voted for a new premier Monday to form Lebanon’s new government amid the worst crises the country has ever faced, people in Beirut were uninterested by the lawmakers’ unfamiliar choice.
Mustapha Adib was designated as prime minister with 90 votes out of a 128-member parliament during constitutionally binding parliamentary consultations with President Michel Aoun. Adib has served as Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany since 2013, is relatively unknown to the Lebanese people.
“We do not know anything about him … All parliamentary blocs named him, but they’re just trying to find a solution” for the inactive government, Malek Ta’an, a resident of Beirut, told Al Arabiya English.
Former premier Hassan Diab announced his government’s resignation on Aug. 10 following a deadly explosion caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was carelessly stored for years inside a warehouse at the Port of Beirut. The blast killed over 190 people, injured thousands of others and left about 300,000 homeless.
Diab’s government has served in a caretaker capacity since.
“Hassan Diab’s government is going to be better than the one [Adib] will form … If someone [like Adib] was designated during the normal times, he could achieve something. But now, nothing is normal when it comes to security or the economic and political situations,” Ta’an added.
Lebanon is currently facing its worst economic and financial crises amid increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.
To address the country’s dire situation, Adib vowed to swiftly form a government of “specialists” and implement necessary reforms required to unlock international aid.
France has long pushed for reforms pledged by Lebanon at 2018’s CEDRE donor conference in Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron also sought international aid for Lebanon following the Aug. 4 explosion.
Many residents believed Adib’s designation was due to Macron’s pressure, who arrived in Beirut Monday night for his second visit to the country since the blast.
“I do not know much about him, but I have heard that he is close to Macron,” Sara Barazi, a resident of Furn al-Shubbak, said.
Barazi said she did not expect political parties to designate someone unknown to most of the population.
“I would have supported the designation of Nawaf Salam … But since [political leaders] have not changed, nothing will change in the government. They will not allow change,” she told Al Arabiya English.
Salam, a judge at the International Court of Justice and former Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations, obtained 16 votes during consultations.
Sentiments of faithlessness in the state were also echoed by Amr Ashqar, another resident of Beirut.
“We do not trust this political class … They all agreed to designate [Adib] … But at the end of the day, the decision is in the hands of the people,” Ashqar said.
Other residents believed that Adib should be given a chance.
M.A., a resident of Beirut’s southern suburbs who refused to disclose his full name, said the people must give Adib a chance to see what his plan is for the country.
“We have to wait and see what he will do to address the economic, security and political situations. We must see … who he will choose as ministers and whether he will choose competent people or not. We cannot know yet,” M.A. said.
While expressing her surprise of Adib’s designation, Nada Chanouha said she would give Adib a chance “since he has been already designated.”
“All eyes are on him now, so he has to be very careful … People will not give too many chances as they did in the past. People will revolt against him after the first mistake,” Chanouha, a Beirut resident, told Al Arabiya English.
People opposed to Monday’s consultations and Adib’s designation demonstrated Monday night outside the residence of prominent Lebanese singer Fairouz as Macron visited her following his arrival in Beirut. The protesters held signs that said, “No cabinet by or with the murderers,” in English and French.