Lebanon is one year without a government. Following the tragic explosion in the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020, Hassan Diab's government was forced to resign six days later as a result of massive protests across the country. Three prime ministers have been appointed over the past twelve months, two of whom have had to resign after being unable to form a government. The last hope for the Mediterranean country is Najib Mikati, who was appointed prime minister on 26 July and takes over the unfinished business of his predecessor Saad Hariri.
The situation in Lebanon is becoming increasingly unsustainable, with shortages of basic goods such as medicines and supply cuts of up to 12 hours a day. Almost three weeks after being appointed to form a government, Mikati is facing the same difficulties as his predecessor, political disagreements over the distribution of posts according to confessional quotas, despite the fact that all political leaders agree on the urgency of forming a government that can tackle the serious economic crisis.The interim prime minister, Hassan Diab, has urged politicians to put aside their "interests" to speed up the formation of an executive that will help the country out of the economic crisis, a year after his resignation and the interim government.
The only way out of Lebanon's economic crisis is for the political elite to put aside their lust for power and agree on a ministerial portfolio as soon as possible. International aid, as well as talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are at a complete standstill, as they have made the delivery of non-emergency aid to Lebanon conditional on the implementation of reforms and the formation of a government. Najib Mikati and Lebanese President Michel Aoun have already held six meetings, and it seems that there are growing differences between the two.
According to analysts, the Lebanese president is the main obstacle to forming a government. Aoun is seeking greater power in the executive in the run-up to the May elections. According to Arab News, during meetings between the prime minister-designate and the Lebanese president, Aoun reportedly asked Mikati to appoint 12 of the 24 ministers, including the minister of social affairs. While the formation of a government in Lebanon seems to be dragging on and on, the population is facing one of the worst economic crises of the 21st century.
Lebanon has been in the grip of a severe economic crisis since 2019 that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced its peak social outburst in the wake of the Beirut port explosion. The detonation took the lives of 205 people, injured more than 6,500, with damage estimated at up to 5 billion, displaced another 350,000 residents from their homes, and destroyed numerous buildings, leaving a large number of people homeless, at a critical time for many Lebanese.
One year on from what is considered one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions the world has ever seen, in this volatile scenario, Lebanese society is still crying out for answers and wondering where its leaders are. After it became known that the explosion was caused by the deflagration of more than 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored in the port of Beirut without proper precautions, public outrage has only grown since then, and the questions remain unanswered.