Beyond the recent Beirut explosion, Lebanon was already and continues to be struggling with issues of economic mismanagement and sectarian divide. Topped off with unstable governance, Lebanese struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
SYSTEMIC ISSUES IN THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT
The sectarian power-sharing political system in Lebanon is the legacy of a 15-year long civil war that had ended in 1990. The system guarantees the minorities in Lebanon representation in parliament and positions in government – in a bid to prevent the re-eruption of sectarian conflict.
Unfortunately, the system has also facilitated the entrenchment of patronage and clientelism in Lebanon – motivating the anti-government protests that erupted in 2019 demanding an overhaul of the political system. According to protestors, the cronyism was so insidious that even basic services like healthcare and education were “handed like favors”.
Decades of corruption and government mismanagement has left Lebanon’s economy in shambles. This was further aggravated by the Beirut explosion.
The International Monetary Fund and France had offered to help Lebanon tide through this financial crisis, contingent on political and economic reforms. However, reforms have proven to be challenging due to the Shia political parties’ desire to maintain the existing system for their own advantage.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia estimated more than half of the country’s population is now trapped in poverty, almost double from 28% in 2019. As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, the UNHCR have observed a spike in people risking their lives to make it across the Mediterranean Sea – in search for better living conditions.
Following the Beirut explosion, the government led by then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab has resigned.
Parliamentarians had initially chosen Mustapha Adib as the new Prime Minister. However, he has failed to form a government after a month of negotiations, and have since stepped down from the position.
It remains to be seen if former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, ousted in a popular uprising last year, can successfully form a government and lead Lebanon out of this crisis.