Lebanese Security Chief Fears Political Paralysis, Social Collapse

An aerial view of the Ashrafieh district of Lebanon’s capital Beirut is seen as streets empty to minimize social contact as part of efforts against the coronavirus. (AFP)

A senior Lebanese security official has said the risk of political paralysis has increased since an election produced a fractured parliament last month, warning of a possible “disaster” because there is no majority to legislate.

Major General Abbas Ibrahim also said he was concerned about social instability, saying this worried him more than political instability in a country suffering one of the world’s sharpest financial meltdowns.

“The results of this election could cause a disaster since we have large political blocs with widening gaps between them on various issues and no majority to pass laws,” Ibrahim told General Security magazine, an official publication of his security agency, which was published on Thursday.

The May 15 election, Lebanon’s first since its economy collapsed in 2019, resulted in the Iran-backed Hezbollah party and its allies losing their majority.

Reform-minded newcomers and the Lebanese Forces – a Christian party – gained seats.

Analysts have said the more fractured legislature increases the chance of political paralysis and tension among Lebanon’s fractious politicians, at a time when the country is in dire need of government decisions to address the economic crisis.

The meltdown has sunk the Lebanese pound by more than 90% since 2019, frozen depositors out of their savings in the banking system, and led poverty to soar.

“The people have a right to object and raise their voice over the collapse of the Lebanese pound but we don’t want matters to turn into chaos and we are working very hard to prevent the country from entering social chaos,” Ibrahim said.

The outgoing government reached a draft IMF agreement in April, conditional on Beirut enacting reforms that its politicians have long failed to deliver.

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