Lebanon announces new 'expert' government

Last Modified Wednesday, 22 January 2020 (16:30 IST)
Following a months-long political vacuum, has formed a new government made up of specialist ministers, with Prime Minister promising to address the demands of the recent protest movement.
Lebanon formed a new government Tuesday, with Prime Minister Hassan Diab putting together a Cabinet of 20 members, made up of specialist "expert" ministers backed by political parties. 
 
Diab, a former engineering professor at the American University of Beirut, said his government "will strive to meet their demands for an independent judiciary, for the recovery of embezzled funds, for the fight against illegal gains."
 
Lebanese President Michel Aoun picked Diab for the prime minister post in December. Lebanon has been gripped by three months of protest and political unrest following the resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
 
Diab is also supported by the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement. Diab's new Cabinet includes a woman appointed as deputy prime minister and defense minister, a first in Lebanon.
 
Many of the rest of the Cabinet are former academics and advisers in their respective specialist fields, and has been dubbed an "expert" Cabinet, though protesters have dismissed this is a farce. Diab himself is a former academic and education minister.
 
The country has been without a government since Hariri's resignation, and is facing an economic and financial crisis.
 
Protesters not satisfied 
 
Shortly before the cabinet was announced, thousands of people poured into the streets of the capital, Beirut, in rejection of the new government.
 
Protesters have been calling for sweeping reforms and a government made up of independent experts
 
Hilal Khashan, a professor at the American University of Beirut, told the AFP news agency that the idea of a genuinely technocratic government in Lebanon was "wishful thinking."
 
"Behind every candidate, there is a political party backing their nomination," he said. 
 
Another demonstrator said Diab did not "keep his promise of forming a government of independent" experts.
 
Promises of reform 
 
After the Cabinet announcement, Prime Minister Diab said his new government will work to address the protesters' demands.
 
"This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilized nationwide for more than three months," he said, moments after his cabinet was read out at the presidential palace.
 
Diab also said his government would be a "a rescue team" that will act "fast but not hasty" in tackling the worst economic and financial crisis to hit Lebanon since the country's civil war.
 
The nationwide protests are led by young people who blame government corruption and incompetence for the lack of jobs and basic services.The new government is scheduled to meet on Wednesday for the first time.
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