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UN official calls for ‘competent’ new Lebanese government

By Charlotte Ricca

Banks in Lebanon close again, as the United Nations urges president to form ‘competent’ new government

UN official calls for competent new Lebanese government

As banks in Lebanon close once again, a representative of the United Nations has urged the president to form a “competent” new government.

United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, met with president Michel Aoun on Tuesday to discuss the “critical financial and economic situation” in Lebanon and its root causes.

Kubis reminded Aoun of his promise to form a new government, based on expertise rather than political affiliation, following Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation on October 29.

The UN coordinator called for the urgent formation of a cabinet made up of people known for their “competence and integrity”. Kubis explained the government would not only win the trust of the Lebanese people, it would be in “a better position to appeal for support from Lebanon’s international partners”.

“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” said Kubis.

Banks in Lebanon only reopened last week after being closed for two weeks in October. They have since tried to prevent capital flight by introducing restrictions on dollar withdrawals and transfers abroad.

Customers have been demanding access to their money, while others have protested at the banks. As a result, banks closed again today to protect staff.

Schools also closed after the education minister said students had the “right to express their views” and join the demonstrations, which have continued for weeks around Lebanon.

The economic crisis was largely triggered by a slowdown of financial inflows, which led to a severe shortage of US dollars. This generated a black market, with the Lebanese pound falling below its official pegged rate.

Kubis added: “It is essential that the authorities prioritise urgent measures to maintain the country’s monetary, financial and economic stability, as well as to put the necessary reforms, good governance, end to corruption and accountability without impunity on the right and fast track in a transparent manner.”

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