Lebanon’s foreign minister steps down amid economic crisis
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti has resigned, becoming the first cabinet minister to quit his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis crippling the country.
Hitti submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left without making any comments. He was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said Hitti was also angered by PM Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab has said Le Brian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether Hitti’s resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his role in a caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Lebanon’s financial crisis, rooted in decades of state corruption and waste, marks the biggest threat to the country’s stability since the 1975-90 civil war. A collapsing currency has led to soaring inflation and poverty, and savers have lost free access to accounts in a paralysed banking system.
During his visit, France’s Le Drian described the leadership as passive. “Concrete actions have been expected for too long,” Le Drian told reporters after talks with Hitti.
The free-falling economy has sparked mass protesting since October against a political class accused of being incompetent and corrupt. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs or part of their income.
After the country defaulted on its debt for the first time in March, the government pledged reforms and two months ago started talks with the International Monetary Fund. But negotiations have since hit a wall, with two top members of the government’s own team resigning, allegedly in frustration at the administration’s lack of commitment to reform.
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