Lebanese react with hope, cynicism to new government
Orient Net 2019-02-01 16:54:00
Lebanon formed a new national unity government on Thursday (January 31), ending nine months of wrangling, and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said bold moves were needed without delay to address chronic problems facing the heavily indebted state.
The government of Hariri, who has Western backing, includes most parties including the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah, which emerged stronger from the parliamentary election last May thanks to gains by its allies. Hezbollah chose the new health minister.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil - who retained his post - warned last month that Lebanon was in an economic crisis that has "started to turn into a financial one".
Lebanon's public debt is one of the highest in the world set against the size of its economy, and it has suffered low growth for years for reasons including regional turmoil.
Hariri lost more than a third of his lawmakers but kept his status as the leading Sunni and so returns as premier for the third time. The post is reserved for his sect under Lebanon's sectarian system of rule.