Lebanese doubtful new cabinet up to the task of reform

Beirut: Lebanese commentators voiced scepticism Saturday over the bankrupt state's ability to win back the support of foreign donors after political factions finally agreed a new government following 13 months of horse-trading.

Billionaire Najib Mikati, who has served as prime minister twice before, on Friday unveiled his team of newcomers, some technocrats but all endorsed by at least one of the political parties dominant since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The 24-member cabinet, which includes a single woman, faces the daunting task of carrying out reforms demanded by the international community to unlock desperately needed financial aid.

But many Lebanese questioned whether the new team was up to the task, or would be able to bring forward the demands of a 2019 protest movement for an end to alleged mismanagement and corruption.

"There is no confidence in Naji Mikati's government, which represents the interests of a system that engineered the country's collapse," wrote the Al-Akbar newspaper, which is close to powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The new government comes as Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank has described as one of the world's worst economic crises since the 1850s.

The overwhelming majority of Lebanese struggle to survive amid soaring inflation, fuel and medicine shortages and almost round-the-clock power cuts.

A huge swathe of the population has sunken into poverty, while thousands of the better off have left the country for new lives abroad. French-language newspaper L'Orient - Le Jour questioned the naming of "an old-school cabinet to tackle a herculean task". - AFP