Lebanon in collapse acquires a new government

The Lebanese no longer believed in it. However, early Friday afternoon, September 10, the birth of the government led by Sunni Nagib Mikati was announced from the presidential palace of Baabda. It took no less than fourteen meetings between the Prime Minister and the Lebanese Head of State Michel Aoun, and endless negotiations behind the scenes, to give birth to a new cabinet of 24 ministers. He will have the heavy task of tackling an unprecedented socio-economic and financial crisis, which has plunged millions of Lebanese into poverty.

→ PORTRAIT. Lebanon: Najib Mikati appointed prime minister for the third time

The forceps training of this new cabinet comes thirteen months to the day after the resignation of Hassan Diab’s government on August 10, 2020, after the double explosion in the port of Beirut. Two other prime ministers designate, Mustapha Adib then Saad Hariri, also threw in the towel.

24 ministers

The new team, which will meet for the first time on Monday, September 13, has 24 ministers, including new faces: Firas Abiad, director of the Rafic Hariri government hospital and spearhead in the fight against the coronavirus in the country, becomes Minister of Health; Nasser Yassine, professor and director of the Observatory of Crises at the American University of Beirut, inherits the Ministry of the Environment. And only one woman, the diplomat Najla Riachi, in charge of administrative reform.

According to several sources, France has exerted very strong pressure in recent days for the formation of the government to finally succeed. The contact between Emmanuel Macron and the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi last weekend would also have played a role in accelerating the process.

Promises and disillusions

In his first speech, Nagib Mikati said he was determined to work “To stop the collapse in progress” and to “Knocking on all doors, especially on the doors of the Arab world”. “The situation is difficult but not impossible to manage if we cooperate”, said the billionaire and deputy for the city of Tripoli, in the north of the country.

With tears in his eyes, the Prime Minister spoke of “The situation in the country (…), infants deprived of infant formula, children (who) wonder if they will go to school (…) fathers (who) have seen their income lose more than 80% of their value and no longer know how to make ends meet (…) “.

“When I saw Mikati on TV with his crocodile tears, I thought he would just have to give back one of his looted billions to the state and it’s good”, reacts to Elias (1), a 35-year-old Lebanese, unemployed for several months. A direct allusion to the suspicions of illicit enrichment hanging over Nagib Mikati. “We are almost happy because finally this mafia, which we dream of debunking, ended up forming a government, that’s where we are”, adds Rita Bassil, a 43-year-old Lebanese woman, bitter.

Worst crisis since 1850

The challenges facing the government are immense. The economic crisis that has raged in the country since the summer of 2019, described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since 1850, is worsening every day a little more. 78% of the population now live below the poverty line, according to the UN, while the Lebanese face the fall of the Lebanese pound, drastic power cuts of up to 22 hours a day and shortages of electricity. fuels and drugs.

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The new government will also have to relaunch negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, tackle reforms and fight corruption. So many essential steps for the international community before the release of financial aid likely to get Lebanon out of the rut. Aware of the pitfalls that await him, Nagib Mikati has set himself “Until May 21 (date of the end of Parliament’s mandate) to accomplish (its) mission”.


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