President Michel Aoun has asked Mustapha Adib to form a new government after the diplomat secured 90 votes in the 128-member parliament.

Lebanon's newly appointed premier Mustapha Adib (C) speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, on August 31, 2020.
Lebanon's newly appointed premier Mustapha Adib (C) speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, on August 31, 2020. (AP)

Lebanon's prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib has called for the formation of a new government in record time, urging immediate reforms as a step towards securing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

He spoke on Monday after being designated premier and hours before the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron, whose pressure on Lebanon's fractious leaders was crucial to forging an agreement on Adib, Beirut's ambassador to Berlin.

Adib, a 48-year-old diplomat and close aide to former prime minister Najib Mikati, secured 90 votes among the legislators in the 128-member parliament.

He said he will form a Cabinet of experts and will work with parliament to "put the country on track of improvement and 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 knowing that. The government should be formed very quickly,” he added.

Adib said a new government must be formed in record time and reforms must be implemented immediately as "an entry point to an agreement with the IMF."

Donor states want Lebanon to carry out long-delayed reforms to stamp out state corruption and waste in order to release financial support. The previous government launched talks with the IMF in May but these stalled amid divisions on the Lebanese side over the scale of losses in the financial system.

A first

In his first move after being appointed, Adib visited the historic neighborhood of Gemmayzeh, one of the areas hardest-hit by the explosion, and chatted with residents – something which no other Lebanese politician has done.

“There are no words to express this frightening scene,” Adib said. 

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

“We want the truth, and if you are not going to work for the truth, then we don’t want any of you,” a man told Adib as the ambassador walked among the people, surrounded by a handful of guards.

French influence

Macron was due to arrive for a two day-visit, during which he is expected to press Lebanese officials to formulate a new political pact to lift the country out of its multiple crises.

This visit will be President Macron’s second trip to Lebanon in less than a month, following the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion.

Macron is at centre stage in international efforts to press Lebanese politicians to address the region's crippling financial crisis.

READ MORE: Macron visits Lebanon as Beirut blast sparks grief and fury

Adib won vital political backing on Sunday from former Lebanese prime ministers including Saad al Hariri, who heads the biggest Sunni party, the Future Movement. 

According to the country's sectarian system, the post of prime minister of Lebanon must go to a Sunni Muslim. 

Aoun and Lebanon's Shia Muslim Hezbollah movement have both vowed to agree on any nominee supported by the country's top Sunni political figures.

Deep change

Lebanon's last government, headed by Hassan Diab, resigned after the massive explosion of ammonium nitrate at Beirut's port on August 4 that killed at least 188 people, wounded thousands and laid waste to large parts of the capital.

That disaster came amid the country's worst economic crisis in decades as well as the coronavirus outbreak and at a time of widespread popular discontent with Lebanon's entire political class.

Those who have taken to the streets in mass protests since October 17 against the politicians they deem corrupt and inept have already rejected any name that might emerge from the parliamentary consultations.

Macron will be in Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday for his second visit since the massive explosion.

Macron weeks ago warned that Lebanese leaders have a "huge" responsibility – "that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change."

On Friday, he spoke of the "constraints of a confessional system" in a country populated by Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims.

"If we let Lebanon go in the region and if we somehow leave it in the hands of the depravity of regional powers, it will be civil war," Macron said.

With the economy on its knees, a swathe of Beirut in tatters and sectarian tensions rising, the former French protectorate faces the biggest threat to stability since a 1975-90 civil war.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies