Lebanon announces formation of new government

Lebanon announces formation of new government

16:34 - Lebanon was without an effective government since Saad Hariri resigned in October.

Lebanon has formed a new government, the presidency announced after Hezbollah and its allies clinched a deal on a cabinet that must tackle the country's worst economic crisis in decades.

Heavily indebted Lebanon has been without an effective government since Saad Hariri resigned as premier in October under pressure from protests against state corruption and waste - root causes of the crisis.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, a 60-year-old professor at the American University of Beirut, now heads a Cabinet of 20 members, mostly specialists backed by political parties.

"I've been appointed in the face of many accusations. I wanted to work, not to argue. I have abided by the law informing me to form a government. I followed the rules and regulations to form a new team of ministers," he said, moments after the line-up was read out at the presidential palace on Tuesday.

"This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilised nationwide for more than three months."

He said his government "will strive to meet their demands for an independent judiciary, for the recovery of embezzled funds, for the fight against illegal gains". 

"In this decisive moment, I salute the revolution and the uprising that pushed us towards this and Lebanon has become victorious. We will achieve the social cohesion. There will be accountability."

The move is unlikely to satisfy protesters. They have been calling for sweeping reforms and a government made up of independent technocrats that could deal with the country's crippling economic and financial crisis, the worst this tiny Mediterranean country has faced in decades. 

"This government that does not aspire to cronyism and favours. None of the members of the government will be standing for the next elections. This government is made up of non-partisan people who are not affected by political wrangling," Diab added.

Lebanon has been rocked by mostly peaceful anti-government rallies since October 17, but the protests turned violent on Saturday and Sunday amid political deadlock and an ever-deepening economic crisis.

Over the weekend, demonstrators, who had called for a "week of rage", lobbed stones, firecrackers and street signs at riot police, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to clear a road leading to Parliament.

The escalation saw more than 540 people wounded on the two sides and came as wrangling delayed the formation of a new government.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from the capital Beirut, said people have taken to the streets and are outside the parliament chanting slogans against the prime minister and the government.

“What he really tried to do is defend his cabinet lineup, even calling it an exceptional government, saying it meets the aspirations of the people. He even saluted the uprising," she said.

"People are angry. They have lost faith in the ruling authorities. They believe they should give up power. They should have created an independent cabinet, a small cabinet that can govern the country." 

 

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