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UN urges Lebanon to build gov't of 'competence'

November 12, 2019 at 6:38 pm

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (R) meets with Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) Jan Kubis (4th L) at the Baabda Palace in Beirut, Lebanon on 4 November, 2019 [Lebanese Presidency Handout/Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations urged Lebanon on Tuesday to form a competent new government better able to seek international aid after weeks of protests against the ruling elite, warning the country was in a critical financial and economic situation, reports Reuters.

Lebanon’s banks and schools were shut in a new wave of disruption as politicians struggled to agree on a new government to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

Lebanon has been swept by weeks of demonstrations fuelled by anger at the establishment, including several former civil war militia leaders, widely perceived to have overseen rampant state corruption for decades.

The top UN official in Lebanon called for the urgent formation of a cabinet made up of people known “for their competence and integrity” that would be “trusted by the people”. Such a government would be in “a better position to appeal for support from Lebanon’s international partners”.

“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, said after meeting President Michel Aoun along with a group of foreign ambassadors.

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The head of an importers’ syndicate said restrictions on payments abroad were getting worse and further bank closures were not helping.

Aoun said formal consultations with MPs to nominate a new prime minister and form the cabinet would be held soon. Ahead of the formal discussions, politicians have been trying to agree on the composition of the government to replace caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s outgoing cabinet.

Bank branches, which were closed for nearly half of October, shut again as staff went on strike over security fears, a union leader said, citing intimidation by customers demanding access to their money and by protesters who have gathered at banks.

The union, representing bank employees, called for the closure to continue on Wednesday.

Protests in Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Protests in Lebanon – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]