Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Hezbollah-backed Hassan Diab appointed prime minister in Lebanon

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The new Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, December 19, 2019. Hussein Malla / AP

Lebanese President Michel Aoun will appoint academic and former Minister Hassan Diab, supported by the Shiite movement Hezbollah and his allies, Prime Minister of this country in the grip of an unprecedented challenge, putting an end to almost two months of political dithering. "After parliamentary consultations (…), the president instructed Hassan Diab to form a government", the presidency said in a statement on Thursday (December 19), after consultations postponed twice.

Read also Lebanon's political elite remain deaf to street anger

The appointment ends weeks of procrastination over the profile of Saad Hariri's successor, who resigned on October 29 in the face of widespread protests against the political elite in Lebanon. Hariri reiterated on Wednesday that he was not a candidate for his own succession and his parliamentary bloc has not nominated a candidate to replace him.

Mr. Diab proclaimed himself "Independent" and assured the protesters that their "Uprising" had borne fruit, "By handing over political life" from the country " on the right track ". This 60-year-old academic and ex-minister of education (2011-2014) won 69 votes during the parliamentary consultations, mostly from Hezbollah and its allies, including the Courant Patriotique Libre (CPL) founded by President Aoun and Berri's Amal Shia party. However, he did not get the support of senior Sunni officials, most notably the party (Current of the Future) of the resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

International pressure

On the brink of economic collapse, Lebanon has been living since October 17 at the rate of an unprecedented popular uprising against the entire ruling class, accused of corruption and incompetence. Protesters are calling for the formation of a cabinet of technocrats independent of the political harassment in power since the end of the civil war (1975-1990).

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The International Support Group for Lebanon, which met on December 11 in Paris, called for the swift formation of a government capable of undertaking the reforms necessary to obtain international financial aid.

Lebanon, where more than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and which displays a public debt representing 150% of its GDP, is going through its worst economic crisis since the civil war and the situation has further deteriorated with the movement of contestation.

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