Keeping Lebanon without a government is “increasingly irresponsible” given developments in the region and the country, the United Nations’ senior official in Lebanon said on Wednesday.
Lebanon has been without a functioning government since Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister in October, prompted by protests against the political elite over rampant state corruption, and is mired in a deep economic crisis.
Tensions in the Middle East have escalated dramatically since a U.S. drone strike last week killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s military strategy in the region, where Tehran’s allies include the powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah.
“Given the situation and developments in the country and the region it is increasingly irresponsible to keep Lebanon without an effective and credible government,” U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis said in a Twitter post.
“I urge the leaders to move without any further delay.”
After weeks of squabbling, Hassan Diab, a former minister, was designated prime minister last month with the support of Hezbollah and its political allies including the Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun.
But he did not win the support of Hariri, who is aligned with Western and Gulf Arab states. Diab met Aoun on Tuesday evening and made no public statement after the meeting.
Lebanon’s deep financial and economic crisis has meanwhile raised concerns about its stability as a shortage of hard currency has led the Lebanese pound to slump and banks to impose tight controls on access to deposits and transfers abroad.