Politics & Economics

Lebanon to finally get government 'in time for Christmas'

Middle East

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Lebanon's capital, Beirut, on Sunday to protest against a political stalemate that has prevented the formation of a new government seven months after elections.

Lebanon will get a new government just in time for the Christmas holidays, the country’s finance minister has said, raising hopes for an end to a protracted crisis that has brought the small nation’s economy to the brink of collapse.

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil told Reuters the crisis was “in the last phase and it is probable that the government will be formed before the Christmas holiday”.

“This will leave a positive impact on the financial and economic situation and open the way for a start to dealing (with) this file,” he added.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, on Sunday to protest against a political stalemate that has prevented the formation of a new government seven months after elections.

The demonstration was organised by the Communist Party, but drew others frustrated by the country’s deepening political and economic crisis.

Wearing red scarves and raising red flags, protesters complained about corruption, poor public services and spiraling public debt that is more than 150 percent of GDP.

Lebanon’s political factions are deeply divided over the war in neighboring Syria and other issues.

Lebanon held its first parliamentary elections in nine years in May, however has been unable to form a government ever since.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was assigned to form a government in May, says conflict over ministerial shares have stalled the process.

On 24 May, after parliamentary elections, Aoun quickly nominated Hariri for his third term as prime minister and tasked him with forming a cabinet.

Key parties have jostled over ministries since the vote, with officials and foreign donors warning that a delay would aggravate the country’s economic troubles.

Lebanon’s economy has been under pressure for years from the war in neighbouring Syria, a debt of $85 billion equal to 150 percent of its GDP and little growth.

Image: Getty

Article: The New Arab