Lebanon foreign minister resigns

A burnt down branch of a Lebanese bank after it was vandalised by protesters in Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli on June 12   
AFP  File

A burnt down branch of a Lebanese bank after it was vandalised by protesters in Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli on June 12 AFP File

Lebanon named the president's diplomatic adviser as new foreign minister on Monday after Nassif Hitti quit the post, blaming a lack of political will to enact reforms to halt a financial meltdown which he warned could turn Lebanon into a failed state.

Hitti, after submitting his resignation to Diab, left the government house without making any comments earlier on Monday.

Former adviser to Lebanese President Michael Aoun and diplomat Charbel Wehbe was appointed to replace Hitti as foreign minister on Monday by Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Lebanon is undergoing its worst financial crisis in decades, and the cabinet, backed by the militant Hezbollah group and its allies, has struggled to carry out reforms demanded by the global community as the price of a bailout. "Lebanon today is slipping into becoming a failed state", Hitti added.

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Meanwhile, "my duties could not be performed in these fateful historical circumstances", Hitti said, indicating that this had also contributed to his final decision.

Hitti said there is an "absence of an effective will to achieve comprehensive structural reform", according to The Associated Press.

Marwan Hamade, a member of the Lebanese parliament, said Hitti had "risen up" against the government to join the people and the revolution again.

If those in power did not work towards the interests of the Lebanese people "to rescue them, then the boat, God forbid, will sink with everyone", Hitti said in a statement.

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Hitti, a previous ambassador to the Arab League, was designated in January when ... "He is mainly not happy with the performance of the government", a senior official told The National before the announcement. Diab appeared to criticise France's foreign minister for tying aid to reforms and a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when visiting Beirut last month.

Last week, Diab said that Le Drian's visit to Lebanon did not bring anything new, and alleged that the visitor was misinformed of the government's alignment efforts to implement reforms that would pave worldwide aid.

It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Amman was ready to provide any help Lebanon needed, while Iran said it was "fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary".

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