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Schenker Stresses Reform as Lebanon’s Hariri is Back as PM

Schenker Stresses Reform as Lebanon’s Hariri is Back as PM

Thursday, 22 October, 2020 - 16:45
Demonstrators set fire during a protest against the collapsing Lebanese currency, in Beirut, Lebanon June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah

Business as usual in Lebanon is unacceptable and any new government must be committed to - and capable of implementing - reforms that bring economic opportunity, good governance and an end to endemic corruption, a top US diplomat said on Thursday.


"Whatever government comes next must commit to and have the ability to implement reforms that can lead to economic opportunity, better governance and an end to endemic corruption," Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters in a teleconference.


Schenker declined to comment specifically about the naming of Saad Hariri as Prime Minister for a fourth time.


"The United States has not commented or weighed in on specific individuals in Lebanon. We have maintained from the very beginning that what is important are the principles," Schenker said, referring to reform, transparency, anti-corruption and accountability. "There is a lot to fix and so we are sticking with principles, rather than people, and so we are going to reserve judgment."


President Michel Aoun designated Hariri on Thursday a year after he was toppled amid nationwide protests against widespread corruption and a flunking economy.


Hariri now faces a more impoverished Lebanon, devastated by a massive August explosion that defaced Beirut.


He takes the helm with a sense of urgency and more involvement by international leaders who have warned Lebanon is on the verge of collapse.


Hariri pledged to quickly form a new government — his fourth in the last decade — to halt the economic collapse, calling it the “last and only” opportunity.


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