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  • Hassan Diab talks to the media after being named Lebanon's new prime minister, at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon December 19, 2019.

    Hassan Diab talks to the media after being named Lebanon's new prime minister, at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon December 19, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 December 2019
Opinion

“I will work hard to form a government as soon as possible,” Diab said in a speech. “All our efforts must focus on stopping the collapse and restoring confidence.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced on Thursday that he has named the former Minister of Education, Hassan Diab, the new Prime Minister after Saad Hariri stated on Wednesday that he was not seeking the candidacy.

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Lebanon’s newly named prime minister said on Thursday he would quickly form a government to pull the country out of economic crisis after he was designated with backing from Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies.

Hassan Diab, a little-known academic and former education minister who surfaced as a candidate overnight, said he would address the grievances of protesters who have been demonstrating for two months and urgently enact a reform plan.

The designation set the stage for a cabinet that excludes allies of the United States and Sunni Gulf Arab countries while underlining the influence of Iran’s friends in Lebanon. The move would complicate efforts to secure Western financial aid, analysts say.

Lebanon, facing its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, has been seeking a new government since Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on Oct. 29, prompted by the protests against the ruling elite.

Efforts to reach a deal on a new premier have been hampered by divisions that reflect tensions between Hariri, who is aligned with Western and Gulf Arab states, and Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah. Washington regards the heavily armed Hezbollah as a terrorist group and has imposed sanctions on it.

“I will work hard to form a government as soon as possible,” Diab said in a speech. “All our efforts must focus on stopping the collapse and restoring confidence.”

He said the crisis required all sides to stand together and that the priority in government would be for specialists.

Hassan Diab, Lebanon's newly named prime minister, walks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Diab also sought to reassure protesters angry at an elite they accuse of steering Lebanon towards crisis, saying: “I have heard your voices, which are expressing long-standing pain and anger at the state we have reached.”

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