Lebanon announces new government, ending 13 months of political deadlock

Lebanese leaders have formed a new government led by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, finally putting to an end 13 months of political deadlock that worsened Beirut’s crippling economic situation.

On Friday, Mikati, who was designated prime minister in July, alongside President Michel Aoun, agreed on the formation of the new cabinet and signed it into a decree. Mikati remarked that “the situation is very difficult” in Beirut and stressed that the members of the government are “all going to work together, united with hope and determination.”

The formation of the new government concludes a political stalemate which has lasted for over a year and paves the way for restarting negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, which Mikati had promised to do once a new cabinet was formed. Previous attempts to create a new cabinet had proved fruitless following the resignation of then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab in August 2020 in the wake of the fatal Beirut port explosion, which killed over 200 and wounded around 7,500 others.

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Mikati, a businessman and two-time former prime minister, previously had corruption charges filed against him in 2019, alleging he had profited from a subsidized housing loan scheme.

Lebanon’s lack of concrete leadership, combined with the deadly blast, exacerbated the country’s economic instability. The World Bank Lebanon Economic Monitor said in June that the nation’s financial depression was one of the most severe since the mid-nineteenth century, while a UN study in August found that almost 80% of Lebanon’s population lives in poverty.

In the past few months, problems with financing fuel imports have plagued Lebanon. In July, two of the country’s main power plants, which provide around 40% of the country’s electricity, were shut down as foreign banks had not yet signed off on transactions allowing Electricite Du Liban to unload two fuel shipments waiting in port.

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