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Lebanon's parliament approves new budget amid protests

EPA-EFE/NABIL MOUNZER
Newly assigned Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab speaks to media after his meeting with Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Hariri house in Beirut, Lebanon, 19 December 2019. Hassan Diab is named as the new Lebanese Prime Minister by President Michel Aoun after consultations with parliament blocks members in which he gained a 69 vote of the 128-member parliament.

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Lebanon’s parliament passed the 2020 state budget on 27 January, amid a major economic and financial crisis. The 2020 budget envisages a deficit of around 7% of GDP, more than the 0.6%, which was promised by the previous government.
The newly elected PM Hassan Diab said he would not obstruct the budget. The country’s finance committee chief, however, said the forecast revenues might be unrealistic. Meanwhile, protesters threw rocks at police around parliament. They protest against the lack of reforms and the corruption in the government run by elites.
“The government must put into place indispensable measures. It’s almost a question of its survival”, said French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Analysts say the new cabinet will struggle to win support from the West, as Diab is supported by the country’s Shia Islamist militant group Hezbollah, who makes up a pariamentary majority, and is banned in many countries.
“This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilised nationwide for more than three months”, Diab said when he took office. His words, however, have not calmed the protesters, who doubt that the new government will end poverty.
Analysts called the budget “a worthless piece of paper that doesn’t reflect the priorities of the Lebanese people and doesn’t include any key reforms”, while the protesters, who have rejected the new cabinet, called the government “thieves”.
We won’t leave the streets until they are all pushed out. We want to bring down the entire parliament, it does not represent us”, a protester said.

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