Lebanese Authorities announced the formation of a new national unity government, ending almost nine months of domestic wrangling amid heightened concerns of a major economic collapse. The new government will include most of the country’s rival factions, which negotiated over the makeup of the cabinet since the May 6th election, that saw allies of the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah gain additional power.
While the Western-backed Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri lost a third of his Parliament Members in the May elections, he will maintain his post as Prime Minister due to Beirut’s complex power-sharing system that aims to represent all of the country’s religious and political communities. In a press conference, Prime Minister Hariri stressed the urgency of facing the countries challenges, including – what he referred to as: “the Israeli threats.” Fouad Fleyfel, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, said: “Subject number one, Saad Al-Din Al-Hariri is named prime minister. Subject number two, this decree is published and is reported where appropriate and takes effect as soon as it is issued.”
The Lebanese leader further stressed that the time has come to route-out corruption from government and divert all attention to combat chronic problems facing the heavily indebted state. “We are facing financial and economic challenges as well as social, administrative and service ones, other than the challenges that we know of in the region and the situation on our border and the Israeli threats. This means that cooperation between the ministerial team is a must, to be up for the challenges and for the government to succeed,” He said.
The comments Hariri made on corruption were directed, among others, to the Shi’ite organization Hezbollah, which is currently facing financial difficulties, since the United States posed a series of international sanctions on Iran, its primary economic backer, forcing it to seek alternative means of income.
A Lebanese political analyst told TV7 that Hezbollah’s financial challenges led its leadership to attain Lebanon’s health ministry, which maintains the fourth-largest budget in the country’s strained economy. It is important to note that by picking the health minister, the Hezbollah organization will be moving beyond the marginal role it played in past governments for the first time in history.
Meanwhile, Some Lebanese bond prices jumped to their highest level since August in response to the news, and celebratory fireworks burst over Beirut shortly after the formation of the new unity government was announced.