Crisis-hit Lebanon's new cabinet to meet for first time

Under PM Hassan Diab, the government, was formed on Tuesday after the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group Hezbollah along with the allies agreed on a cabinet of 20 specialists

Lebanon's new cabinet is due to meet for the first time on Wednesday, bearing a message of support from the United Nations as ministers begin the urgent task of addressing an unprecedented economic crisis.

The government, under Prime Minister Hassan Diab, was formed on Tuesday after the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group Hezbollah and its allies agreed on a cabinet of 20 specialists.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will work with Diab to support the reform agenda, Guterres' spokesman said in a statement, reiterating the UN's commitment to strengthening Lebanon's sovereignty, stability, and political independence.

Lebanon Flag
Lebanon Flag Pixabay

The heavily indebted state has been without an effective government since Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon's main Sunni leader and a traditional ally of the West and Gulf Arab states, quit as premier in October following widespread protests against politicians who have led Lebanon into its worst crisis since the 1975-90 war.

Diab was nominated by Hezbollah and allies last month. Hezbollah is designated as a terrorist group by the United States. Protesters took to the streets of Beirut as the new government was announced and closed roads in several cities using tires and other make-shift barriers. New Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said on Tuesday that Lebanon needed foreign aid to save it. He described forthcoming foreign currency sovereign debt maturities as "a fireball".