Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab on Friday warned that the situation in Lebanon “does not allow for any waste of time,” vowing to “intensify consultations to reach the result that the Lebanese are hoping for.”
“The responsibility for Lebanon’s rise is huge and everyone is aware of the economic and financial challenge that the country is going though. Let us begin a new journey that resembles the will of the people,” Diab tweeted.
“Your demands are rightful and they represent a groundwork for building a new state,” Diab added, addressing citizens and protesters.
Diab’s non-binding consultations with the parliamentary blocs on the shape and line-up of the new government are scheduled for Saturday.
Earlier on Friday, Diab said that he plans to form a government of experts and independents to deal with the country’s crippling economic crisis.
Diab spoke to reporters following a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a day after he was asked by the president to form the country’s next government.
Diab, a university professor and former education minister, won a majority of lawmakers’ votes after receiving backing from the powerful Hizbullah and its allies. However, he lacks the support of major Sunni figures, including the largest Sunni party headed by Hariri.
That is particularly problematic for Diab, who as a Sunni, lacks support from his own community.
Diab, however, emerged from Friday’s meeting with Hariri saying the atmosphere was “positive.”
“As an expert and an independent, my inclination is to form a government that is truly made up of experts and independents” Diab said.
Shortly after he spoke, scuffles broke out between Hariri’s supporters protesting on a Beirut street and army units, underlying the tension on the ground.
“I ask them (protesters) to give us a chance to form an exceptional government” that can work on resolving the country’s many problems, accumulated over the past 30 years, Diab said.
Diab faces a huge challenges in trying to form a consensual government that would also satisfy protesters who have been on the streets since mid-October, seeking to sweep away an entire political class they deem as corrupt. He also faces a mammoth task of dealing with the country’s economic and financial crisis in one of the most indebted countries of the world.
Support from the Iran-backed Hizbullah guarantees Diab a thorny path, potentially inviting criticism from Western and Gulf nations that had supported Hariri.
Friendly nations, including France, have made clear they will not support the heavily indebted nation before a reform-minded Cabinet is formed.