Lebanon promises crisis Cabinet within 2 weeks | Daily News


 

Lebanon promises crisis Cabinet within 2 weeks

A demonstrator holding a Lebanese flag with black stripes stands atop the Martyrs' Statue at the Martyr's Square in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday. - AFP
A demonstrator holding a Lebanese flag with black stripes stands atop the Martyrs' Statue at the Martyr's Square in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday. - AFP

LEBANON: French President Emmanuel Macron said Lebanon's embattled leaders had pledged Tuesday to form a crisis Cabinet within two weeks to push forward with key reforms, as he visited the disaster-hit country.

Macron was in Beirut for a second time since an August 4 explosion there which killed more than 180 people, laid waste to entire city districts and fuelled popular rage against the country's political elite.

He attended muted celebrations marking the centenary of Greater Lebanon, shortly after political leaders settled on a new prime minister, Mustapha Adib, to form a cabinet and lead the country out of political turmoil and an economic crisis that was already crippling the country before the portside blast.

"What all political parties without exception have committed to this evening right here, is that the formation of this government will not take more than 15 days," he said.

Macron had set himself an ambitious goal for his return visit: to push for deep change, but without being seen as meddling in the former French mandate.

"This is the last chance for the Lebanese system," he warned earlier.

Macron spoke to the press after meeting top Lebanese politicians, while clashes erupted in central Beirut between security forces and protesters rejecting the new prime minister. One held a poster aloft urging Macron: "Do not cooperate with the corrupt and criminal."

The French leader arrived Monday, just hours after Adib, a little-known 48-year-old academic and former ambassador to Germany, was designated to form a government.

Macron said it was not his place to "approve" the designation of Adib, whom he met late Monday and again on Tuesday.

The premier designate "has to be given all the tools to succeed... so he can implement reforms" long demanded by the international community, Macron said.

The Beirut explosion compounded Lebanon's worst economic crisis since the war, which has reached the point where the UN has warned that more than half of the population risk food shortages by the end of the year.

On August 9, international donors pledged over 250 million euros (around $300 million) in emergency aid, during a video conference jointly organised by France and the United Nations.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters called for the proclamation of a secular state, to replace the multi-confessional country's sectarian power sharing system. - AFP


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