Lebanese president to appoint Hizbollah-backed Diab as PM - GulfToday

Lebanese president to appoint Hizbollah-backed Diab as PM

Hassan Diab

Newly-assigned Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab.AP

Lebanon’s newly-named prime minister vowed on Thursday to form a government quickly that works to pull the country out of economic crisis and reassures people who have protested against the political class for two months.

Hassan Diab, a little-known academic and former education minister, was designated premier on Thursday with backing from Hizbollah and its allies.

“All our efforts must now focus on stopping the collapse and restoring confidence,” he said from the presidential palace.

Earlier Lebanon’s president on Thursday asked Hassan Diab to form a new government, breaking a weeks-long impasse.

Michel Aoun named Hassan Diab as prime minister after a day of consultations with lawmakers in which he gained a simple majority of the 128-member parliament.

Sixty-nine lawmakers, including the parliamentary bloc of the Shiite Hizbollah and Amal movements as well as lawmakers affiliated with President Michel Aoun gave him their votes.

Diab, 60, faces the daunting task of forming a government to tackle the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

He also failed to get the support of the country’s major Sunni leaders, including former prime minister Saad Hariri, which will make it difficult for him to form a new government. Diab arrived at Baabda palace later Thursday to meet with Aoun who summoned him for the appointment.

Diab, who served as education minister in 2011, gained attention after caretaker Hariri withdrew his name from consideration following weeks of haggling and deep divisions between the various factions over naming him again.

Hariri resigned on Oct. 29 in response to unprecedented mass protests against the entire political class while an already dire economic crisis was quickly deteriorating.

Since then, efforts to agree on a new prime minister and the shape of government have kept hitting a dead end.

“May God make everyone successful,” Hariri told reporters after briefly meeting with Aoun on Thursday ahead of the consultations.

Meanwhile, in a separate development Germany’s parliament passed a resolution on Thursday calling for a national ban on the activities of Hizbollah and for the Lebanese group to be put on the European Union’s terrorist list.

Mathias Middelberg, the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, said the joint resolution was agreed upon with the junior coalition Social Democrats, as well as the opposition Free Democrats.

The international community has made the formation of a serious, reform-minded government a condition for releasing assistance to the country.

Associated Press