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Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: New Lebanese govt faces multiple challenges

Filed on January 22, 2020 | Last updated on January 22, 2020 at 07.19 pm

Daily essentials like food was hard to procure and medicines were out of reach for the common man and woman.

The agonising wait for a government in Lebanon is finally over and the country can now get on with the business of fixing its economic problems that had triggered mass protests over several months. The task will not be easy but the cabinet led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab is a refreshing mix of professionals - a government of technocrats is just what the doctor ordered to put Lebanon on the path to recovery that have seen investors stay away from the country.

Daily essentials like food was hard to procure and medicines were out of reach for the common man and woman. Unemployment levels surged to a record high and average Lebanese citizens were victims of political games played by the entrenched ruling elite. At the core, the new government is still sectarian in make-up, and the Sunni bloc has fewer seats at the high table. Rumblings are already out in the open, but PM Diab, the lone Sunni politician in the cabinet, is a learned man and all eyes will be on him as he guides the country out of one of its worst periods in modern history.

Lebanon has a chance to correct the wrongs of the past with sweeping economic reforms. Protests have shown that the people have had enough of the brand of divisive politics that was practised in the country that gave foreign players like Iran meddling powers. Hezbollah remains a major power broker - a political-militia that is a proxy of Tehran. How the group will be contained is the question. Will the PM be given a free hand to roll out measures that shore up its economy and attract Western investment that it badly needs? Hezbollah is the stress factor, the stumbling block whose candidates will have an unequal say in the affairs of the country.

PM Diab will be treading on eggshells politically, but if he gets the economic balance right, he will have the people on his side. If Lebanon can bite the bullet and tide over these tough times under this government of technocrats, it will be easier ushering in political and social changes that the country badly needs starting with a relook at the Taif Agreement that perpetuated sectarian politics that has divided the country on social-political lines for three decades since its signing in 1989. But like they say, first things first. The new government must be given a chance. The world is watching and hoping that this experiment succeeds.



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