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Monday, January 24, 2022

Qatar welcomes formation of new Lebanese government after months of deadlock


Lebanon has finally formed a new government after more than a year of an unprecedented devastating economic collapse. 

Authorities in Doha have welcomed the formation of a new Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a statement from the Qatar’ foreign ministry stated on Friday. 

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms Qatar’s full support for the new government in order to achieve the aspirations of the brotherly Lebanese people for development, progress and prosperity,” said MoFA.

The Gulf state wishes the new government success in performing its duties, the statement added, highlighting “Qatar’s permanent readiness to stand by the Lebanese people in a way that enhances security and stability in the country.”

On Friday, a Lebanese presidency statement said designated PM Mikati and President Michel Aoun signed a decree forming a new government in the presence of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Read also: Qatar ‘ready to support Lebanon’ on all levels to end crisis: Lebanese presidency

The latest government formation comes after 13 months of a political deadlock that drove the country into an unprecedented economic and financial collapse. 

“The situation is very difficult. But it’s not impossible if we unite as Lebanese. We have to put our hands together,” Mikati said in a press conference on Friday. 

“We are all going to work together, united with hope and determination,” he vowed at the Baabda Presidential Palace after signing the decree in the presence of Aoun and Berri.

Headed by third-time PM Mikati, Lebanon’s 24-minister government is divided between Sunnis, Shias, Maronites, Orthodox, Druze, Armenians and other minorities: 

The Deputy Prime Minister is Saadeh al-Shami, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi, Health Minister Firas Abiad, Environment Minister Nasser Yassin, Economy Minister Amin Sallam, Finance Minister Yousef Khalil, Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh.

Agriculture Minister Abbas Al-Haj Hassan, Culture Minister Mohamad Mortada, Labour Minister Mostafa Bayram, Education Minister Abbas Halabi, Displaced Minister Issam Sharaf El-Din, Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Abou Habib, Telecommunications Minister Johnny Qorm, Tourism Minister Walid Nassar, Information Minister George Kordahi.

Justice Minister Henry Khoury, Energy Minister Walid Fayyad, Defence Minister Maurice Slim, Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar, Youth and Sports Minister George Kalas, Industry Minister George Bojkian and the only female Najla Riashi appointed as Administrative Development Minister.

The lack of female representation triggered mockery online with some social media users comparing the list of names to the Taliban’s new cabinet in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading efforts to push for a political resolution in Lebanon, welcomed the new government.

Meanwhile, Aoun said “the government formation is the best that can be reached, and our concerns lie in prioritising solving the people’s current problems.

“We have huge responsibilities and we have to work on getting out of the current crisis,” he added.

Worst economic crisis since the civil war

In his speech, Mikati vowed to help Lebanon through “exceptional circumstances”, as the country witnesses the worst economic crisis since the Lebanese 1975-90 civil war.

He expressed concern for the education sector, which is Lebanon’s primary and perhaps only treasure. Despite the catastrophic economic situation and rife political corruption, Lebanon has ranked on the top list globally in terms of education, according to the World’s Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. 

For over a year now, the country has been facing a financial and economic meltdown with its currency losing 90 percent of its value, while petrol, diesel, and medicine shortages continue to plague the state. 

With the new government formation, the Lebanese pound edged lower, reaching 15,000 L.L. However, the current exchange rate is still fluctuating.

Just two years ago, one US dollar was traded for 1,500 L.L.

According to the UN’s latest study on Lebanon, three-quarters of the Lebanese population live in poverty.

Now that a government is formed, the Lebanese parliament is expected to meet for a vote of confidence for the Mikati government.

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