Lebanon News

US Embassy official: No assistance for Lebanon without credible government

Protesters take pictures with their mobile phones of a defaced poster of newly-nominated Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, and a list of what the protesters call the premier's achievements when he was minister of higher education, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Any new government must be credible and capable of implementing the reforms demanded by the Lebanese people, a U.S. Embassy official said Saturday.

While not commenting on the shape or makeup of the next cabinet, the official said that the real test of any government would be its actions.

“As we have previously said, Lebanese leaders need to commit to and implement the reforms necessary to respond to the Lebanese people’s demands for an end to endemic corruption, better governance and economic opportunity,” the official said.

Hassan Diab has been attempting to form a government since his designation as prime minister on Dec. 19.

Diab has pledged to form a small cabinet made up of independent experts who are not affiliated with political parties. This is a major demand of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets since Oct. 17, calling for the dismantling of the decades-old confessional ruling system and the removal of a political elite they believe to be corrupt and incompetent.

But Diab has been met with opposition from traditional political parties, including the Free Patriotic Movement, the Amal Movement and other groups and sects.

The official said that a credible government would be one that is broadly perceived by the Lebanese people as such, that will act in their interests and is able to restore international confidence in Lebanon.

Unless this type of government is formed, no future international assistance for Lebanon will be unlocked, the official added.

“There is a strong international consensus on this point,” the official said, adding that there is no route to international assistance other than concrete reforms taken by a credible and capable government.

Touching on the nationwide anti-government protests that have been ongoing since Oct. 17, the official renewed Washington’s call for all sides to refrain from violence and for authorities to respect the right to peaceful protest.

Earlier this week, violence was witnessed on multiple nights and the Internal Security Forces were heavily criticized for excessive use of violence, including against journalists.

The agency has since apologized, as has caretaker Interior Minister Raya El Hassan, for the use of unnecessary violence against members of the press.

 

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