Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, is set to be the next prime minister of the country. President Michel Aoun asked Adib to form the government after consultations with various parliamentary blocks on Monday. 90 of the 120 members of parliament expressed support for Adib.
Adib received the support of the two major Shia blocs, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, and the major Sunni political blocs, including former PM Saad Hariri’s Future Movement
His predecessor, Hassan Diab, had resigned following massive protests in the aftermath of the blasts in Beirut port which killed close to 200 people and injured over 6,000. Diab himself had come to power amid major protests that began last year demanding systemic change in the country. The protests had forced Saad Hariri to resign in October.
The formation of the new government takes place even as French president Emmanuel Macron is set to make his second visit to Lebanon after the blasts. As the process of government formation continued, the popular forces involved in protests warned against both interference and the continuation of the same old system. Lebanese Communist Party Secretary General Hanna Gharib pointed out that Macron was coming to stand behind the Lebanese establishment and help it present a united face amid its fissures. He warned that new government may be worse than its predecessors and one of “direct confrontation with the Lebanese people and their uprising.”
Lebanon is going through an unprecedented political and economic crisis. The country has accumulated massive international debt as a result of its dire economic situation, which is currently one of the world’s highest, at 170% of its GDP. The Lebanese currency has also lost more than 80% of its value since October 2019. Nearly half the population lives below the official poverty line and the unemployment rates are nearly 35%. Adib will resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a USD 10 billion bailout package although the agency may ultimately agree for only a smaller sum and may also impose fresh structural reforms. These reforms are likely to further restrict the country’s flexibility and may lead to fresh protests on the streets.