Protests continue in Beirut after Lebanon forms new Hezbollah-approved government

Protests continue in Beirut after Lebanon forms new Hezbollah-approved government

Protests continue in Beirut after Lebanon forms new Hezbollah-approved government

"We will ask the worldwide donors to provide Lebanon with $4 billion to $5 billion in soft loans to finance the purchasing of wheat, fuel oil and pharmaceuticals", newly appointed Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni was quoted as saying by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

In televised comments on Thursday, Wazni said: "The entire worldwide community has its eye on what this government will do".

Lebanon has been rocked by protests since October previous year.

But Diab, who is a Sunni Muslim, is said to be close to the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah.

In the capital Beirut, people opposed to Diab's cabinet appointments and his links to Hezbollah protested outside parliament and elsewhere on Wednesday. Major political parties that have Western backing, including that of former premier Saad al-Hariri, are not part of the cabinet.

Upon meeting with Prime Minister Hassan Diab, the ambassador of Switzerland in Lebanon, Monika Schmutz Kirgöz, confirmed that the new Lebanese government will face a great challenge and that Switzerland is ready to help.

It must decide on how to deal with maturing Eurobonds, including a $1.2bn bond due in March.

Meanwhile, in the first comment by the United States, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo declined to say whether Washington would support the new Lebanese government.

The European Union's ambassador to Lebanon, Ralph Tarraf, said he had agreed with Diab on the need for Lebanon to "focus on economic files, address the crisis and institute structural reforms", two local media outlets reported.

Lebanon won pledges exceeding US$11 billion for a programme of infrastructure investment at an global conference in 2018, conditional on reforms that the previous government failed to implement.

"So far, no country has really come forward with the intention of bailing out Lebanon or providing global assistance".

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