Lebanon’s PM-designate Hassan Diab vows to form government quickly

Sooner Hassan Diab was named Prime Minister-designate, demonstrators gathered in the Martyrs Square in Beirut to protest the decision.

Lebanon’s newly-named prime minister Hassan Diab vowed on Thursday to form a government quickly that works to pull the country out of economic crisis and reassures people who have protested against the political class for two months.

Diab, a little-known academic and former education minister, was designated premier on Thursday with backing from Lebanese Hezbollah and its allies. Support from the Iran-backed group guarantees a thorny path for any candidate, potentially inviting push back from Western and Gulf nations that had supported the outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“All our efforts must now focus on stopping the collapse and restoring confidence,” he said from the presidential palace, after meeting with President Michel Aoun, who summoned him for the appointment.

Diab, 60, faces the daunting task of forming a government to tackle the crippling financial crisis in one of the most indebted countries of the world. While gaining the majority of the votes, he failed to get the support of the country’s major Sunni leaders, including Hariri, which will make it difficult for him to form a new government.

Diab, who served as education minister in 2011, gained attention after caretaker prime minister Hariri withdrew his name from consideration following weeks of haggling and deep divisions between the various factions over naming him again. Hariri resigned October 29 in response to unprecedented mass protests against the entire political class while an already dire economic crisis was quickly deteriorating.  

Roads blocked in protest 

No sooner Hassan Diab was named Prime Minister-designate, demonstrators gathered in the Martyrs Square in Beirut to protest the decision.

Al-Arabiya correspondent reported that protesters were blocking several streets in pro-Hariri areas, while the Lebanese News Agency reported that there were protests in northern Lebanon following which a number of key roads were cut off.

Lebanese anti-corruption protesters shout slogans outside the parliament to denounce the nomination of Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab in the capital Beirut on December 19, 2019.


The traffic on the Naameh Highway was blocked in both directions, in addition to the road at Al Salam Roundabout in Tripoli, and at Al Marj Roundabout in the port, as well as at the Elia Square in Sidon.

The Lebanese National Media Agency reported that protesters on motorcycles had gathered in front of Diab’s house, chanting slogans in support of Hariri.

Meanwhile, the outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in a tweet, called on his supporters to reject any call to take to the street or to block roads. He stressed that calmness and national responsibility should be the priority as the crisis facing Lebanon was dangerous.

Supporters of outgoing Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri burn tires as they block a road in the Qasqas neighborhood of the capital Beirut, on December 19, 2019.

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