French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Lebanon to quickly form a new government, following the appointment of its new prime minister.
The former Lebanese Ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, took on this new role with the support of most of the deputies.
Senior Lebanese officials say Mr Macron’s mediation was crucial in reaching consensus on the appointment.
The last government resigned following the devastating explosion in the capital, Beirut, on August 4.
At least 200 people were killed in the blast, caused by ammonium nitrate stored unsafe in the city’s port.
Mr. Macron arrived in Beirut on Monday for his second visit since the deadly explosion. While there, he is expected to push Lebanese politicians to fight corruption and financial waste.
Speaking to reporters, he said a new government should be formed “as soon as possible” – something Mr. Adib has already promised.
But during his visit, Mr Macron was greeted by protesters chanting ‘no Adib’ – a sign that Mr Adib’s appointment is seen by some as a continuation of the country’s status quo.
Protesters have staged mass rallies across Lebanon since October, calling for a complete overhaul of the political system. Power is largely based on sectarian interests in the country, and successive governments have been accused of ineffective and elitist leadership.
Political appointments and many jobs depend on membership in one of the myriad of Lebanese religious communities, a situation that has led to endemic favoritism, cronyism and corruption.
The appointment of Mr. Adib comes at a time of deep crisis for Lebanon, still reeling from the explosion which also left thousands injured and neighborhoods in ruins. Even before the explosion, the country was in dire financial straits as the currency collapsed, unemployment skyrocketed and poverty rose.
It has also been grappling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated the economic crisis.
Who is Mustapha Adib?
Mr. Adib, 48, was appointed Ambassador of Lebanon to Germany in 2013.
He holds a doctorate in law and political science and has previously taught at Lebanese and French universities. He was also an advisor to former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
A group of former prime ministers, including Saad Hariri, who heads Lebanon’s main Sunni Muslim party, The Future Movement, announced their endorsement of Mr. Adib after reviewing several names on Sunday.
Following his appointment, Adib said it was “necessary to form a government in record time and immediately start implementing reforms, starting with an agreement with the International Monetary Fund”.
Historically, governments have taken weeks or months to form after a new prime minister has taken office, although parties have indicated their willingness to speed up the process under the current circumstances.
Until a new administration is agreed, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab will remain interim.