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Crisis-Hit Lebanon Names New Government

Crisis-Hit Lebanon Names New GovernmentCrisis-Hit Lebanon Names New Government

Lebanon ended a painful wait by unveiling a new cabinet line-up, but the government was promptly scorned by protesters and faces the Herculean task of saving a collapsing economy.
More than a month after he was designated with backing from the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah and nearly three after his predecessor Saad Hariri resigned under pressure from the street, Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Tuesday announced his cabinet of 20 ministers.
The academic and former education minister, who was little-known in Lebanon until last month, insisted in his first comments as premier that his cabinet was a technocratic one that would strive to meet protesters' demands, France24 reported.
"This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilized nationwide for more than three months," he said.
He said his government "will strive to meet their demands for an independent judiciary, for the recovery of embezzled funds, for the fight against illegal gains".
Groups of demonstrators had gathered in the streets of Beirut before the cabinet was even unveiled, blocking off a main street in the center of the capital where violent scuffles with the police left dozens wounded over the weekend.
Close to the parliament building, protesters attempted to rip down barbed wire and throw stones at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
The government, which is scheduled to meet on Wednesday for the first time, includes the country's first-ever female defense minister, Zeina Akar, and five other women.
The post of foreign minister, which had been held by President Michel Aoun's controversial son-in-law Gebran Bassil, was handed to respected diplomat Nassif Hitti.
The new cabinet is made up of unfamiliar figures, many of them academics and former advisers, but protesters were quick to argue that the absence of the biggest names in Lebanon's widely reviled hereditary political elite was but a smokescreen.

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