Will Lebanon’s new government finally bring stability?

Lebanon has had no fully functioning government for 396 days. Now, there is a new government led by Prime Minister Najib Mikati (pictured above), created after pressure from several international players. It will soon have to prove that it is equal to the stakes. This new government does not mean an end to the difficulties faced by the Lebanese people but it does spark a glimmer of hope that the economic, financial and social crisis Lebanon currently endures will ease.

Under the triple shock of economic and social failure, a structural political impasse, and the fallout from the terrible explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, Lebanon is experiencing the worst crisis in its peacetime history. During the past two years, Lebanon has suffered a 90 per cent plunge in the value of its currency, the closure of thousands of commercial and manufacturing firms, and spiking unemployment.

Lebanon has been without a new government since the resignation of Hassan Diab’s cabinet following the devastating bombing at the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020. In the span of less than a year, two prime ministers, Hassan Diab and Saad Hariri, have resigned from their appointed positions. The Next Century Foundation is disheartened by the repetitive renunciation of responsability from political actors. However, we recognise this political instability reflects deeper structural difficulties in the Lebanese political system. The sectarianism inherent to the current Lebanese political system has triggered frustrations, conflicts of interests and led Lebanon into a political deadlock.

Does the new Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a Lebanese Sunni, and a former Prime Minister, have the means to end political instability? The ministers of the 24-member cabinet are officially unaffiliated but still follow the subtle sectarian power-sharing system which has entrenched the Lebanese’s political system since its independence. Many of its members have close links to the corrupt Lebanese political elite. The sectarianism that was rejected during the mass protests of 2019 therefore remains intact.

The Lebanese people and the international community expect the government to carry out far-reaching reforms and a serious fight against corruption. However, scepticism remains, especially since the executive branch is controlled by the same political class accused of having introduced corruption to all levels of government. The Prime Minister Najib Mikati must now announce his reform agenda, with the aim of unlocking the billions of dollars in international assistance that have been pledged by the International Monetary Fund, the Gulf countries, and Lebanon’s friends. This new government sparks hope to ease the crisis but this is not enough. Systemic issues inherent to the Lebanese political system remain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s