The new Lebanese prime minister, Mustafa Adib, in Beirut on Monday.NABIL MOUNZER / EFE
Lebanon turns 100 this Tuesday as it tries to rise from the ashes of sectarian misrule, endemic corruption and misery.
Hours before the arrival in Beirut of Emmanuel Macron, president of the former colonial metropolis, for the commemoration of the centenary, the head of state, the Christian Michel Aoun, has appointed Sunni diplomat Mustafa Adib, ambassador to Berlin, as Prime Minister on Monday since 2013. A majority of the puzzle of confessional and ethnic parties - headed by the Shiites of Hezbollah - has endorsed this technocrat in order to pilot the reconstruction after the explosion that devastated the center of the city on August 4. Lebanese capital.
It is the condition that Macron imposed on his previous visit to the still smoking ground zero of the deflagration to channel international aid.
As the third prime minister in just 10 months, Adib faces the Herculean effort to re-straighten a system that grew crooked under the tutelage of Damascus at the end of an endless civil war (1975-1990).
He succeeds fellow technician Hassan Diab - who resigned after the tragedy that claimed at least 190 dead and 6,500 injured and left some 300,000 people homeless - and his mentor, Said Hariri, who threw in the towel in October amid the biggest wave of social protests in the recent history of Lebanon.
He has been invested by 90 of the 120 deputies of the Parliament as an emergency solution to the demand of the Elysee to have an interlocutor in Beirut.
As soon as he is appointed, he has promised to set up a Cabinet of "experts" with powers to develop long-pending reforms, reports France Presse.
"It is necessary to form a government in record time (against the atavistic parsimony of the Lebanese political class) to get down to work," he advanced.
The first mission on his agenda will be to forge an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to save the country from economic wreck.
Born 48 years ago in the city of Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, Adib is married to a French citizen and the father of five children.
With little political experience - he was an advisor and head of the internal cabinet to former Prime Minister Najib Mikati - his profile as a university professor and senior official has allowed him to circumvent the veto that Hezbollah, the main parliamentary force, had interposed against other candidates from the Sunni Muslim community , to which the position corresponds according to the distribution of power agreed after the civil war.
Many of the young people who have supported the protests in recent months have already decreed on social networks that the appointment of Adib is "more of the same."
As a Sunni quota, it has also received the blessing of the Christian Aoun and the Druze Walid Yumblat.
During the weekend, repeated calls from the Elysee to the Lebanese leaders have accelerated the decision of the parties, according to sources from the French Presidency cited by Efe, given the demand for the immediate formation of a "clean, effective and capable government to start the reforms ”.
"If we leave Lebanon in the hands of the regional powers (referring to Iran and Saudi Arabia), there will be another civil war," Macron, who led an international donor teleconference on August 9, had warned in the French press that has committed more than € 250 million to support the reconstruction of areas devastated by the explosion of a warehouse with 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut.
In the midst of the health crisis of the pandemic, the declared unemployment rate rises to 30% and half of the 4.5 million Lebanese live below the poverty line.
The electricity supply is only guaranteed a few hours a day, inflation stands at 60% per year, public debt exceeds 170% of Gross Domestic Product and the Lebanese pound has devalued 80% since last October.
In this picture of chaos and ruin, the challenges that await the new prime minister are insurmountable as long as the current sectarian arbitration continues.
As the correspondent for EL PAÍS in Beirut,
the tragic explosion has represented a point of no return in Lebanon, whose citizens consider it the result of the negligence and laziness of the entire political system.