BEIRUT — Lebanon formed a new government on Tuesday under Prime Minister Hassan Diab after the Hezbollah group and its allies agreed on a cabinet that must urgently address the economic crisis and ensuing protests that toppled its predecessor.
The heavily indebted country has been without effective government since Saad al-Hariri resigned as premier in October, prompted by protests against a political elite seen as having caused the crisis through state corruption.
The Hezbollah group and allies including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and President Michel Aoun nominated Diab as premier last month after efforts failed to strike a deal with Hariri, Lebanon’s main Sunni leader and an ally of the West and Gulf Arab states.
Weeks of wrangling over portfolios among various political parties held up an agreement until Tuesday, when the Hezbollah group delivered an ultimatum to its allies to make a deal or suffer the consequences, sources familiar with the talks said.
The cabinet is made up of 20 specialist ministers backed by parties. Economist Ghazi Wazni was nominated as finance minister with Berri’s backing. Nassif Hitti, a former ambassador to the Arab League, was named foreign minister with the backing of Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.
Diab described his government as a technocratic “rescue team” that would work to achieve the goals of protesters who first took to the streets on Oct. 17. His first trip abroad would be to the Arab region, particularly the Gulf.
But analysts said Hezbollah’s role in the government’s formation meant it might have difficulty convincing other states to provide urgently needed financial support.
Hezbollah is designated a terrorist group by the United States, and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states that have provided Lebanon with financial aid in the past have for years been deeply concerned by its rising influence in Beirut.
Hariri and his Future Movement have stayed out of the government, along with the staunchly anti-Hezbollah Christian Lebanese Forces party and the Progressive Socialist Party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.