Published: Sun, January 26, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Lebanon: New Cabinet Greeted with Demonstrations

Lebanon: New Cabinet Greeted with Demonstrations

Security forces responded with tear gas and water cannon to push away angry citizens.

For many in Lebanon, the new government is too little, too late for a country plunged into its worst economic crisis in its 15 years of civil war.

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra shows Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (C-L) and President Michel Aoun (C) and prime minister designate Hassan Diab (C-R) posing for a group photo with the newly formed government at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut on January 22, 2020.

The protesters say the new government comprises the same people they have been rallying against since October 17.

That ended a three-month political vacuum on the heels of nationwide protests against the country's long serving political class.

But numerous new ministers are close to the stalwarts of Lebanon's hereditary ruling elite and will have little room for maneuver.

"I expect full support from Europe and the US", Diab said.

Most activists and analysts agree that the protests are likely to escalate.

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She said she got involved in the movement in December 2018 and has since only missed one strike. "We put ourselves in the spotlight".

Another protester added: "We are here because they don't listen".

Many protesters have rejected the new government, saying it is still backed by the same traditional political powers they accuse of corruption. Even pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar has been critical of initial statements by the new government, and warned that this cabinet represented "the last chance" for the political elite.

The new government received a tepid welcome on Wednesday as the Trump administration said it was not certain it would work with the coalition dominated by Iranian ally Hezbollah and its Christian allies. I am not at all optimistic about the direction we are taking, "said Citizen in a State's Masri". "Only a government that is capable of and committed to undertaking real and tangible reforms will restore investor confidence and unlock global assistance for Lebanon", he insisted.

The independence of the new government was always in doubt in a country where the ruling elite is desperate to cling to its privileges, but some of the new ministers' expertise was also coming under scrutiny Wednesday.

Speaking about the nationwide anti-government protests that have been taking place since 17 October, Pompeo said the USA wanted a "non-corrupt government" that reflects the will of the Lebanese people.

These were the details of the news Lebanese roads briefly blocked after new government announced for this day.

But protesters said the new leaders are the same people they have gathered with in recent months.

Lebanon, burdened with a public debt equivalent to about 150% of GDP, won pledges exceeding $11 billion at an global conference in April 2018 conditional on reforms that it has so far failed to implement.

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