BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanese President Michel Aoun has hailed the formation of a full-fledged government after 13 months of political gridlock, stating that his crisis-hit Arab country would “climb out of the abyss.”
“We will get out of hell and we will rise up from the abyss that we are in,” Aoun told a group of local reporters after he signed a decree with Prime Minister Najib Mikati appointing a 24-member cabinet charged with halting Lebanon’s economic meltdown.
He said the first task of the new Lebanese government was to address shortages of essential goods, particularly bread, fuel and medicines, blaming “siege and sanctions” for the crisis.
Aoun also said he did not acquire veto power in the new cabinet lineup, dismissing claims he had made such a demand as part of “a political war” against him.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri also announced his support for Mikati in “his vital mission to stop the collapse and launch reforms.”
“Finally, our country has a government after months of void,” Hariri wrote in a post published on his Twitter page.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also lauded the new government as a “very important step” for Lebanon, wishing Mikati “the best success.”
“Of course it is not enough, there are many other things to be solved, but this was the basic condition for anything else to be possible,” Guterres said.
“I wish that he (Mikati) is able to bring together the different Lebanese communities and the different Lebanese political forces in order to make s ure that Lebanon is able to overcome the dramatic situation it faces now,” the UN chief told a press conference.
Lebanon has been mired in a deep economic and financial crisis since late 2019, exacerbated by a political deadlock.
The economic and financial crisis is the gravest threat to the country’s stability since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
Lebanese officials have admitted that major economic restructuring would be necessary to make the country’s economy viable again, however, previous prime ministers have described them as “painful”.
The crisis is mostly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon as well as foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s domestic affairs.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who is known for his controversial uninvited visits to Lebanon and making the most meddlesome statements about the country, said it was vital that Lebanon’s politicians stuck to engagements necessary to undertake key reforms.