Mustapha Adib named Lebanon's prime minister

01 September 2020
Diplomat backed by former prime ministers and Shiite blocs urges focus on reforms

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has designated Mustapha Adib to take over as the country’s prime minister, less than a month after Hassan Diab’s government resigned in the aftermath of the Port of Beirut blasts.

“There is no time for words, promises and wishes,” Adib said following his appointment.

“The time is to work hard, with the cooperation of all, for the sake of the recovery of our country and the restoration of our people, the hope for a better tomorrow.”

Adib said he had accepted the job based on the understanding that “all political parties” in Lebanon recognise its narrowing economic prospects.

The prime minister-designate said he hoped to form a government in record time and “start implementing reforms immediately [to confirm an] agreement with the International Monetary Fund”.

During a tour of the Beirut port’s blast site later in the day, he added: “I wanted to make sure that my first visit after my designation will be to this area. No words can describe the terrifying scene.

“[Our priority] is the completion of judicial investigations to determine responsibilities and accountability.”

Parliamentary consultations for the formation of a new Lebanese cabinet are scheduled for 2 September.

Cross-party support

Adib served as adviser to former prime minister Najib Mikati between 2000 and 2004, and was named Mikati’s chief of cabinet in 2011.

The 48-year-old Adib is said to be a Sunni Muslim, making him eligible to become Lebanon’s prime minister under the country’s sect-based power-sharing system.

Lebanon’s multi-confessional political system requires the prime minister to be a Sunni, the president to be a Maronite Christian and the parliamentary speaker to be a Shiite.

Mustapha Adib, Lebanon's new prime minister-designate (left), visited the area where the Port of Beirut blasts occurred on 4 August

Former prime ministers Mikati, Saad Hariri, Fouad Siniora and Tamam Salam expressed support for the designate on 31 August.

Adib also received backing from members of parliament in the Strong Lebanon (led by Free Patriot Movement), Development and Liberation (affiliated to the Amal Movement), Independent Centre, Democratic Gathering (led by the Progressive Socialist Party), Loyalty to the Resistance (backed by Hezbollah) and Future (led by Future Movement) parliamentary blocs.

The backing of Sunni former prime ministers as well as the Shiite blocs indicates that Adib has more united support than Diab, who was chosen by the Hezbollah-Amal Shia alliance and the Free Patriot Movement, the Christian party to which Aoun belongs.

Economic upheaval

Adib, Lebanon’s envoy to Germany since 2013, faces the mammoth task of rebuilding Beirut both literally and politically in the months ahead.

Lebanon has contended with persistent protests over government corruption and mismanagement, and a free-falling economy with soaring inflation in the prices of food and other essentials, in the past year.

Adib’s appointment was confirmed on the same day as French President Emmanuel Macron’s second visit to Lebanon after the Port of Beirut blasts on 4 August.

I have to make sure that an important government will be formed to serve the Lebanese people and Lebanon

Macron has committed humanitarian and reconstruction aid for Lebanon. On 9 August, France also held a United Nations-supervised conference to raise funds for the country.

Speaking during his second visit, Macron said he was keen to follow up on the political situation in Lebanon.

“I have to make sure that an important government will be formed to serve the Lebanese people and Lebanon, launch reforms, fight corruption for the sake of justice, reform the energy field, and better manage the [Beirut] port and the Central Bank and [local] banking system.

“All these [are] necessary reforms that I have committed to following-up on, [and] if they are taken up by the government that will be formed, then the international community, with France at its forefront, will be able to commit to support Lebanon.”

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