New Lebanese Government Finally Formed
The new Lebanese government was formed on Friday, more than a year after the resignation of Hassan Diab’s cabinet and 45 days after Najib Miqati was tasked with putting together a new government.
President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Najib Miqati “have signed the decree of the new government’s formation in the presence of Speaker Nabih Berri,” the Presidency announced.
Earlier in the day, Miqati said that the line-up does not contain a blocking one-third share for any camp.
Al-Jadeed TV meanwhile reported that an agreement was reached on naming Najla Riachi and Georges Debekian as two independent Christian ministers.
In the previous hours, Miqati agreed with President Michel Aoun on naming Amin Salam as economy minister.
Miqati, who has been prime minister twice before and is the country's richest man, was designated on July 26 to form a government after his two predecessors – Mustafa Adib and Saad Hariri -- threw in the towel.
Lebanon has been run by a caretaker government since August 10, 2020 when Diab and his cabinet resigned en masse following the catastrophic explosion at Beirut port.
The new government announced Friday faces a mammoth task that few believe can be surmounted, including undertaking critically needed reforms. Among its 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 stem the country's collapse. The new Cabinet is also expected to oversee general elections scheduled for next year.
Miqati, a businessman tycoon from the northern city of Tripoli and one of the richest men in Lebanon, was tasked with forming a new government in July. He is widely considered to be part of the same political class that brought the country to bankruptcy. He served as prime minister in 2005 and from 2011 to 2013.
It was not immediately clear what last-minute compromise resulted in the breakthrough Friday. The announcement of a new government comes after recent U.S. and French pressure to form a Cabinet, after Lebanon's economic unraveling reached a critical point with crippling shortages in fuel and medicine threatening to shut down hospitals, bakeries and the country's internet.
The currency has lost 90 percent of its value to the dollar since October 2019, driving hyperinflation and plunging more than half the population in poverty.
Miqati became a favorite for the post after he was endorsed by most of Lebanon's political parties, including the powerful Iran-backed Hizbullah.
Miqati was also endorsed by former Sunni prime ministers including former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who abandoned efforts to form a government earlier this year after failing to agree with Aoun on the Cabinet's makeup.
International calls have mounted for Lebanese leaders to form a new government, but the international community has refused to help Lebanon financially before wide reforms are implemented to fight widespread corruption and mismanagement.