New Government in Crisis-hit Lebanon Ends 3-month Vacuum

Protesters set tires on fire as they demonstrate against the newly-announced government

Protesters set tires on fire as they demonstrate against the newly-announced government Credit JOSEPH EID AFP via Getty Images

Mr Pompeo and anti-Iran Trump administration officials have pressed the Lebanese government for years to sideline Hizbollah's political leaders.

Lebanon is looking to secure $4 billion to $5 billion in soft loans from worldwide donors to finance purchases of wheat, fuel and medicines, Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star cited Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni as saying on Thursday.

In televised comments on Thursday, Wazni said: "The entire global community has its eye on what this government will do".

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She also explained that the situation in Lebanon and the region need urgent measures: "It is no longer possible to ignore the demands of the large numbers of Lebanese people, whether they are those who participate in the protests or wish for a profound and calm change". "As a priority, Switzerland has supported and will continue to support all attempts to reform the judicial system and make it more independent and effective".

In the capital Beirut, people opposed to Diab's cabinet appointments and his links to Hezbollah protested outside parliament and elsewhere on Wednesday.

"This looks more like a political manipulation to provoke the security forces, to undermine civil peace, to fan up sectarian strife", Jan Kubis, U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon, wrote on Twitter, mentioning attacks on security forces and vandalism of state institutions and private property. Hezbollah is designated as a terrorist group by the United States.

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Former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, a traditional ally of the West and Gulf Arab states, and his party are not part of the cabinet. "We're prepared to engage, provide support, but only to a government that's committed to reform". It must decide on how to deal with maturing Eurobonds, including a US$1.2 billion bond due in March.

Lebanon won pledges exceeding $11bn at an worldwide conference in 2018, conditional on reforms that it has so far failed to implement.

"So far, no country has really come forward with the intention of bailing out Lebanon or providing worldwide assistance".

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