Lebanese foreign minister quits over slow reforms

Elias Hubbard
August 5, 2020

The resignation of Foreign Minister Nasif Hitti has deepened "distrust" in the government of PM Hassan Diab, aggravating the state of "diplomatic isolation" surrounding the "ruling authority as government and presidential term", An Nahar daily reported on Tuesday.

Lebanon's foreign minister Nassif Hitti has resigned from his position, saying the country is sliding towards becoming a failed state.

The FM submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.

Lebanon is facing its worst economic and financial crisis, with the population experiencing electricity blackouts, poverty, mounting piles of garbage on the streets and a severely devalued national currency, which has drastically decreased their purchasing power.

Lebanon is undergoing its worst financial crisis in decades, and the cabinet, backed by the militant Hezbollah group and its allies, has struggled to carry out reforms demanded by the worldwide community as the price of a bailout.

Hitti issued a statement explaining that "the lack of a clear vision for the future of Lebanon as an independent and free country, and a country shining in the Arab region and worldwide" stands behind his resignation.

Hitti's resignation shows "that Lebanon is in a state of total confusion", said Hilal Khashan, a professor at the American University of Beirut.

Wehbe, 67, is a previous secretary general of the foreign ministry. The government, backed by Hezbollah and its allies, was appointed after a popular uprising against the political class which demanded political and economic reforms as well as an end to corruption.

"I participated in this government from the point of view of working with one employer named Lebanon..." "If they do not come together in the interest of rescuing the Lebanese people, God forbid, the ship will sink with everyone on it". Talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been put on hold amid a row over the scale of financial losses.

Hitti made a decision to quit over differences with the premier and frustration at being sidelined, a ministry official and sources close to him said. Another MP, Henri Helo, said: "We hope that more follow suit, which paves the way for a new government that meets the Lebanese people's ambitions".

Other cracks have appeared within Diab's government, including between the health and interior ministers this week after it transpired that Heath Minister Hamad Hassan has granted exemptions that allowed seven couples to hold their weddings during a nationwide virus lockdown and a surge in infection cases, even as others had to cancel wedding plans.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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