Political and economic developments in Lebanon following formation of new government

BEIRUT — Days after the announcement of the formation of a new government in Lebanon, Prime Minister Najib Mikati held the first official meeting at the Presidential Palace chaired by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, and in the presence of Speaker Nabih Berri, during which the decree to form a government was signed.

After the meeting, politicians from different parties flocked to congratulate the new government while demanding Mikati ensure reforms are enacted. The priority of the current government should be to stop the economic collapse of the country, said several in attendance.

The Lebanese Finance Ministry also announced that it had received a report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Lebanon would receive about $1.13 billion instead of special rights, which were suspended due to the government vacuum.

This comes as the National Authority for Lebanese Women’s Affairs strongly criticized the new government for excluding women in the cabinet with the exception of a single ministerial portfolio out of 24. The previous government had six women ministers. This government formation does not conform to the principle of equality stipulated in the Lebanese Constitution, said the Women’s Authority.

In related news, after a suspension for several months, the International Tribunal for Lebanon announced that it had raised sufficient funding to review the case of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, adding that it would begin work on 4 October.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department announced a reward of up to $7 million for any information about Talal Hamieh, a senior security official with Hezbollah.

The State Department said Hamieh is responsible for attacks and operations carried out by Hezbollah cells around the world.