UN Steps in to Urge Lebanon to Form New Government

By teleSUR | Cindy Forster|

Protesters chant slogans as they march at a demonstration organised by students during ongoing anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon November 12, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, said after meeting President Michel Aoun along with a group of foreign ambassadors.

Lebanon’s banks and schools were shut on Tuesday in a new wave of disruption as politicians struggled to agree on a new government to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since

The top U.N. official in Lebanon called for the urgent formation of a cabinet made up of people known for their competence, which he said would be in a better position to appeal for international support.

“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, said after meeting President Michel Aoun along with a group of foreign ambassadors.

The country urgently needs a new government to enact emergency economic measures. The head of an importers’ syndicate said restrictions on payments abroad were getting worse and further bank closures were not helping.

Aoun said formal consultations with MPs to nominate a new prime minister and form the cabinet would be held soon. Ahead of the formal discussions, politicians have been trying to agree on the composition of the government to replace caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s outgoing cabinet.

Bank branches, which were closed for nearly half of October, shut again on fears for the safety of staff who have felt intimidated by customers demanding access to their money and protesters who have gathered at banks, a union leader said.

The demonstrations have been fuelled by anger at the ruling elite, including several ageing former militia leaders, widely perceived to have overseen rampant state corruption for decades.

The economic crisis stems largely from a slowdown of capital inflows which has led to a scarcity of U.S. dollars and generated a black market where the Lebanese pound has weakened below its official pegged rate.

A foreign exchange dealer said a dollar was costing 1,820 pounds on Tuesday, around the level cited on Friday when banks were last open and around 20% weaker than the official pegged rate of 1,507.5 pounds.

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About Cholo Brooks 11021 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.