Lebanon designates new PM as Macron visits

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Lebanon's ambassador to Berlin Mustapha Adib (C) arrives at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, on August 31, 2020, upon being named as the country's new premier. - Lebanon named its envoy to Germany as the new premier to steer the country through a deep crisis after the Beirut explosion compounded a sharp economic downturn. (Photo by JOSEPH EID / AFP)

BEIRUT (Lebanon) _ Lebanon’s under-fire political leaders Monday designated a new prime minister, the diplomat Mustapha Adib, to tackle the country’s deep political and economic crisis, hours before French President Emmanuel Macron was due to visit.

Mustapha Adib, 48, Lebanon’s former envoy to Germany, acknowledged in a televised speech that there is “a need to form a government in record time and to begin implementing reforms immediately”.

He vowed to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund for assistance to the country, which is in the throes of its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war and was traumatised by Beirut’s deadly August 4 explosion.

“I want your trust,” an AFP correspondent heard him tell a resident of Beirut’s badly-hit Gemmayzeh neighbourhood afterwards, during a tour of the area devastated by the blast that rocked the city and further shook confidence in the political class.

Macron, who had toured the area two days after the disaster, was due to return Tuesday and was expected to renew his calls for a radical overhaul of the country’s complex, sectarian political system.

Macron had demanded “deep change” and warned then he would check on progress when he returned for the September 1 ceremony marking the centenary of Greater Lebanon, expected to be a glum commemoration.

On the eve of the centenary, many citizens were planning to leave the country and asked whether Lebanon would live to be 101.

President Michel Aoun and his political ally, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, both expressed willingness in speeches Sunday to change the way Lebanon is governed.

The 85-year-old Aoun, a hate figure to Lebanon’s large protest camp which regards him as deaf to calls for change, even urged the proclamation of a secular state. _ AFP

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