Lebanese lawmakers were summoned on Monday to settle the country’s new government after a power outage and a shattered generator briefly delayed the start of the parliament session.
The incident, which took 40 minutes and underscored the deep crisis roiling the small Mediterranean country amid an unprecedented economic meltdown, was prevalent on social media.
Lebanon has been suffering from electricity blackouts and severe shortages of fuel, diesel, and medicine for months. These shortages threaten to shut down hospitals, bakeries, and schools. Lines of people waiting to fill up their tanks are a daily occurrence at gas stations across the country.
The economic crisis, unfolding in the country since 2019, has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the last 150 years. Within months, it had impoverished more than half of the population and left the national currency in freefall, driving inflation and unemployment to previously unseen levels.
A new government headed by Najib Mikati was finally formed earlier this month after a 13-month hiatus, as politicians bickered about government portfolios at a time when the country was sliding deeper into financial chaos and poverty.
The new government is expected to undertake critically needed reforms, as well as manage public anger and tensions resulting from the planned lifting of fuel subsidies by the end of the month.
Lebanon’s foreign reserves have been running dangerously low, and the central bank in the import-dependent country has said it was no longer able to support its $6 billion subsidy program.
The government is also expected to oversee a financial audit of the Central Bank and resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package.