Thursday, 04 March, 2021


Lebanon names new prime minister ahead of Macron visit

Mustapha Adib Lebanon's ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib Lebanon's ambassador to Germany
Bennie Garza | 02 September, 2020, 01:09

President Michel Aoun asked Lebanon's ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, to form a new government after he secured 90 votes in the 128-member parliament.

The Government resigned less than a week after the August 4 blast, which was caused by the ignition of almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse for more than six years.

Adib's designation came the same day French President Emmanuel Macron was due to arrive in Beirut for a two-day visit.

Nadim Houry of the Arab Reform Initiative said Adib was "part of the professional advisors class that orbit around Lebanon's oligarchs".

The choice "above all reflects the challenge of choosing a Prime Minister who does not belong to the Hariri galaxy", said Aurélie Daher, a researcher at the Paris Dauphine University and specialist in Lebanese politics.

"We want the truth, and if you are not going to work for the truth, then we don't want any of you", a man told Adib as the ambassador walked among the people, surrounded by a handful of guards.

"The opportunity in front of our country is narrow, and the mission that I accepted is based on all political groups realising that", he said.

The power-sharing agreement between Christians and Muslims was first consecrated in the 1943 "National Pact" - an unwritten agreement reached after Lebanon gained independence from French mandate authorities.

Adib said he wanted to form a government in record time so that the investigation into the blast can be faster.

On Tuesday, Macron said he was ready to organise an worldwide aid conference for Lebanon in October which, if it happens, would be the second such effort to be led by Paris since the August 4 blast.

Hariri's Future Movement and the powerful Iranian-backed Shi'ite party Hezbollah were among those nominating him. The swift consensus around Adib, a little-known diplomat, signaled a sense of urgency by Lebanon's traditional politicians to try and contain the rapidly worsening economic and financial crisis and show movement ahead of Macron's visit.

"We will not sign a blank check for a government that will not put in place reforms", said French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Under a decades-old arrangement, Lebanon's president must always be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite.

"The second reason for my visit is the centenary of Greater Lebanon and conducting an assessment of the general situation, and I saw that the process has begun with the appointment of a prime minister", he said. Hezbollah and its allies also named Adib.

The port explosion killed 190 people and injured over 6,000.

An unprecedented economic crisis had already cost the Lebanese currency more than 80pc of its value, driving unemployment, poverty and inflation through the roof.

Lebanon's last government, headed by Hassan Diab, resigned after the massive explosion, which revived calls at home and overseas for radical revamp of the state.

His biography on the Berlin embassy website presents him as an academic who holds a PhD in political science.

From 2000 to 2004, he served as an adviser to Najib Mikati, a billionaire and former prime minister who backed his nomination on Monday.

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