Lebanon’s experts concerned over new cabinet’s governing power

Insight Online News

Beirut, Sep 12 : Lebanon’s political experts have expressed concerns over the newly-formed cabinet’s governing power, as the ministers indirectly represent different political parties which have mismanaged the state’s affairs over the past three decades.

“We’ve expected a cabinet of specialists who have clear strategies and plans to save the country from its current collapse which, unfortunately, is not the case,” Rafic Nasrallah, director of the Lebanese International Center for Media and Research, told Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

Nasrallah said Lebanon’s multifaceted crisis necessitates the appointment of specialists who are capable of taking drastic measures that fall in the interest of the country regardless of the ministers’ political affiliations.

Lebanon formed a new cabinet on September 10, breaking 13 months of political deadlock in the crisis-torn country.

The 24 cabinet ministers, who are not official members of Lebanon’s different political parties, were appointed by ruling authorities based on their political affiliations.

The new Prime Minister Najib Mikati told reporters that his cabinet is formed of specialists who are keen to stop the country’s current collapse by dealing with urgent issues, including the negative repercussions of lifting subsidies.

Mikati said he owns two thirds of the government, an indirect hint at President Michel Aoun’s acquisition of a blocking third or a veto power in the cabinet.

Youssef Diab, political analyst at the Lebanese University, told Xinhua that the new cabinet’s composition is likely to result in political disputes which will hinder the new government’s efforts of reaching a consensus on measures aimed at halting the collapse.

“This is why we have asked, in the first place, for the appointment of a powerful and independent cabinet,” he said.

Diab said he does not expect the current government to “do miracles”.

He only wishes for solutions to the fuel crisis by continuing the negotiations for importing electricity from Jordan and gas from Egypt.

“This cabinet should, at least, be able to start negotiations with the International Monetary Fund which is the only way to stop the collapse,” Diab said.

Meanwhile, Sami Nader, director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs in Lebanon, doubts the new cabinet’s ability to make decisions since President Michel Aoun succeeded in gaining a veto power in the government.

“The new government should at least be able to solve part of the electricity problem, issue the subsidy cash cards and manage the crisis until the next parliamentary elections in 2022,” Nader said.

Since the August 2020 Beirut port explosions and the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab last year, Lebanese citizens and experts have been calling for an efficient cabinet capable of undertaking major reforms such as the overhaul of the electricity sector, the restructuring of the public sector and the fight against corruption.

However, differences among political parties over the ministerial shares’ distribution delayed the cabinet formation which exacerbated the country’s financial and economic crisis, with about 74 per cent of the population living in poverty now.


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