Lebanon has finally formed a new government after spending nearly an entire year without one ever since the previous administration decided to quit following the Beirut port disaster.
The previous administration fell under a lot of pressure causing it to shut down and quit after the devasting explosion destroyed much of the Beirut port including surrounding areas.
As of now, Lebanon has announced a new government with the country’s richest man Najib Mikati becoming prime minister, a position he has held twice before which ends months of political paralysis. A new cabinet has also been formed.
According to BBC, the new change comes after the country has struggled with some of the severest domestic crises in its history. The value of the currency has collapsed, unemployment and inflation have soared, electricity, fuel and medicines are in short supply, and the country has been rocked by nearly two years of protests calling for wholesale political reforms.
Lebanon had been without a proper functioning government since then-PM Hassan Diab resigned days after a massive blast on 4 August 2020 destroyed Beirut port and the surrounding area. The explosion was due to improperly stored ammonium nitrate which led to the deaths of 203 people, injuring at least 6,000 and left billions of dollars of damage.
The Beirut explosion only made the situation worse for the previous administration since the disaster happened at a time when nations were grappling with the pandemic. It also led to a wave of protests against the government as many took to the streets demanding change in Lebanon’s political system.
Protesters blamed the blast on corruption, incompetence and a system of patronage where jobs are given in return for political support.
According to BBC, the event compounded growing anger that had been building since the start of the financial crisis in late 2019. In the last few months alone the Lebanese currency has lost 90% of its value, while three-quarters of the population are now living below the poverty line.
Lebanon gets new government
The new cabinet is expected to comprise technocrats approved by rival parties and is likely to pave the way for talks with the International Monetary Fund on a rescue package.
Lebanon’s delicate sectarian power-sharing system had stymied repeated attempts to form a government in the wake of Hassan Diab’s resignation.
Since the end of the 1975-89 civil war, political power has been delicately balanced between its many sects, with the president a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and Speaker a Shia Muslim. An inability to come to an agreement on the nomination of ministers to the satisfaction of various factions and blocs held up the process.
Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus lies to its west across the Mediterranean Sea; its location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has contributed to its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious diversity.
Author: Allan Bangirana
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