Lebanon’s expected new leader Mustapha Adib calls for immediate reforms

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate has called for a new government to be formed “in record time” hours before the French President is due to visit the crisis-hit country.

Mustapha Adib, Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, has pledged to speed up the investigation into the massive Beirut explosion which killed at least 190 people and injured 6000.

The Government resigned less than a week after the August 4 blast, which was caused by the ignition of nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse for more than six years.

Mr Adib, 48, said he would implement reforms after securing 90 votes among the legislators in the 128-member parliament.

Following the vote Mr Adib visited the historic neighbourhood of Gemmayzeh, one of the areas hardest-hit by the explosion, and chatted with residents — something which no other Lebanese politician has done.

The reaction was mixed, with some chanting “revolution” and demanding to know how he can be an independent prime minister when he was chosen by political parties.

A man in a suit looks at the camera.
Lebanese prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib, centre, says his number one priority will be to quickly form a government to implement crucial reforms.(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The breakthrough came hours before French President Emmanuel Macron is due to arrive for a two day-visit where he is expected to press Lebanese officials to formulate a new political pact to lift the country out of its multiple crises.

Mr Adib said he will form a cabinet of experts and will work with parliament to “put the country on track to end the dangerous financial, economic and social drainage”.

“The opportunity in front of our country is narrow, and the mission that I accepted is based on all political groups realising that,” he said.

“Reforms should be carried out immediately through an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.”

Mr Macron and other world leaders, as well as the International Monetary Fund, have refused to give assistance to Lebanon before it enacts major reforms.

The swift vote for Mr Adib — signalled a sense of urgency by Lebanon’s traditional politicians to try and contain the rapidly worsening economic and financial crisis and show movement ahead of Mr Macron’s visit.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said his 18-member bloc had given its backing to Mr Adib.

Mr Hariri called for the formation of a government of experts “that implement reforms aimed at restoring the world’s confidence in our economy so we can start to emerge from this crisis.”

Mr Adib, who returned from Germany to Lebanon on Saturday, was the only name to emerge as a favourite for the post of prime minister, who according to Lebanon’s sectarian-based power sharing system has to be a Sunni Muslim.

Mr Adib was named by four former prime ministers, including Mr Hariri, on the eve of Monday’s consultations.

He served as an advisor to one of Lebanon’s former prime ministers, Najib Mikati and took part in the committee in charge of writing Lebanon’s new electoral law in 2005 and 2006, and acted as chief of Cabinet in 2011.