Lebanon diplomat tipped to become country's new PM

Lebanon diplomat tipped to become country's new PM
Lebanon will start consultations to name a new premier, with the envoy to Berlin emerging as a front-runner ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's visit.
3 min read
31 August, 2020
Lebanon's ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, is expected to be named as prime minister-designate [Getty]
Lebanon's president is holding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to designate a new prime minister for the crisis-stricken country, with a career diplomat poised to win the job on Monday.

Lebanon's ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, is expected to be named as prime minister-designate and asked to form a new government.

Adib, a relatively unknown 48-year-old diplomat and close aide to former prime minister Najib Mikati, has received backing from the country's Sunni Muslim political heavyweights, including the Future Movement party headed by former premier Saad Hariri.

Adib still needs to be formally endorsed during Monday's consultations, but President Michel Aoun and Lebanon's Shia Muslim Hezbollah movement have both vowed to agree on any nominee supported by the country's top Sunni political figures.

Under multi-confessional Lebanon's political system, the premier must be a Sunni, the presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian and the post of parliamentary speaker goes to a Shia.

Consultations to name a new prime minister were set to start at 6am GMT in the presidential palace in Baabda near Beirut, with a meeting between the president and former premier Mikati, who was expected to name Adib.

The president was expected to conclude consultations at 10:15am GMT, according to the National News Agency.

A majority of lawmakers must decide on whom to name as premier before Aoun tasks the candidate with forming a new government, an often drawn-out process that can take months.

'Deep change'

Lebanon's last government, headed by Hassan Diab, resigned after the massive explosion of ammonium nitrate at Beirut's port on 4 August that killed at least 188 people, wounded thousands and laid waste to large parts of the capital.

That disaster came amid the country's worst economic crisis in decades as well as the coronavirus outbreak and at a time of widespread popular discontent with Lebanon's entire political class.

Those who have taken to the streets in mass protests since 17 October against the politicians they deem corrupt and inept have already rejected any name that might emerge from the parliamentary consultations.

French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday for his second visit since the massive explosion.

Macron weeks ago warned that Lebanese leaders have a "huge" responsibility - "that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change". 

On Friday, he spoke of the "constraints of a confessional system" in a country populated by Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims.

"If we let Lebanon go in the region and if we somehow leave it in the hands of the depravity of regional powers, it will be civil war," Macron said.

Adib, a native of the northern city of Tripoli, holds a PhD in political science and taught at a Lebanese university before being named in 2013 as Lebanon's ambassador in Germany.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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