Who is in the new Lebanese Cabinet?

The government will have to tackle the country's economic meltdown

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati formed a government of 24 ministers on Friday, exactly one year after his predecessor Hassan Diab resigned in the wake of a deadly blast at Beirut port.

The past year has been marred by political wrangling between Lebanon's sectarian political parties, which have been widely accused of prioritising their interests over the population's.

The country's worst economic crisis, which came to a head in late 2019, stems from decades of corruption in the state and unsustainable financing. The local currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value and the UN believes about 80 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

The Cabinet includes 12 Christians and 12 Muslims in line with Lebanon's sectarian politics. The Prime Minister is always Sunni Muslim, the President Christian Maronite, and the Parliament Speaker Shiite Muslim. There is only one woman among the ministers.

Lebanon's new Cabinet

Prime Minister: Najib Mikati

Head of his own political party, the Azm Movement

Two-time Prime Minister Najib Mikati is one of Lebanon’s most successful businessmen. Forbes estimates Mr Mikati’s fortune to reach $2.9 billion.

He was picked on July 26 to form a Cabinet after veteran politician Saad Hariri stepped down on July 16, months after diplomat Mustapha Adib also failed to form a government on September 26.

Mr Mikati has previously said he would seek to restart negotiations with the IMF once his government was formed. In his speech on Friday, he vowed to hold next year’s elections on time and promised a “governmental plan to rescue the country”.

Deputy Prime Minister: Saadeh Al Shami

Chosen by: the Syrian Social Nationalist Party

Mr Al Shami was Middle East technical assistance regional office director at the IMF from 2008 to 2013 and worked at the IMF for around two decades, an IMF spokesperson told The National.

Additionally, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar previously reported that Mr Al Shami served for five years as the chairman of the Lebanon's Capital Markets Authority.

Foreign Minister: Abdallah Bou Habib

Chosen by: Najib Mikati / former PM Saad Hariri, close to President Michel Aoun

A former World Bank economist with a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Mr Bou Habib served as Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington between 1983 and 1990 - when President Ronald Reagan elected to withdraw US Marines from the country - Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said.

Mr Bou Habib returned to the World Bank in 1992 as an adviser to the head of the MENA regional communications department.

Mr Bou Habib founded the Issam Fares Institute in 2007, a Beirut based think tank. He also headed the office of former deputy prime minister Issam Fares, with whom he was very close.

Interior Minister: Bassam Mawlawi

Chosen by: former PM Saad Hariri

Mr Mawla was a judge of the Chamber of First Instance in Beirut before heading the North Lebanon criminal court, the NNA said.

Defence Minister: Maurice Salem

Chosen by: President Michel Aoun

Born in the town of Kfarshima south-east of Beirut in 1954, Mr Salem joined the military college in 1972, eventually graduating into the artillery corps at the rank of lieutenant, said the NNA.

His final position in the army was Head of Military medicine, until his retirement at the rank of brigadier in 2012. His time in the military included a period of study at the US staff college at Fort Leavenworth.

Finance Minister: Youssef Khalil

Chosen by: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, head of political party the Amal Movement

Mr Khalil is the director of the Lebanese central bank’s Financial Operations Department. The website of the Lebanese microfinance association, over which he presides, says that he obtained a doctorate in France from the Centre of Studies and Research in International Development and joined the central bank in 1982 as an economist.

Justice Minister: Henry Khoury

Chosen by: President Michel Aoun

A retired judge, Mr Khoury is the former head of the State Shura Council, Lebanese radio station Voix du Liban said.

Economy Minister: Amin Salam

Chosen by: Najib Mikati

Mr Salam is a corporate lawyer and economist with a degree in leadership and management from the Harvard Kennedy School, the NNA said. He is a former vice-president for business development of the National-US Arab Chamber of Commerce.

Health Minister: Firass Abiad

Chosen by: Saad Hariri

A gastrointestinal surgeon, Mr Abiad has been the chairman of the board of directors of Lebanon’s largest hospital, the Rafic Hariri Hospital, since 2015. Mr Abiad studied at the American University of Beirut, where he obtained an MBA in 2013.

Mr Abiad shot into public consciousness as the face of Lebanon’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent profile in Slate magazine called him “Lebanon’s version of Anthony Fauci: a medical professional who offers data-driven assessments of the course of the pandemic at a time when many government officials seem asleep at the wheel”.

Environment Minister: Nasser Yassin

Chosen by: Saad Hariri

Mr Yassin is the current director of the crisis observatory at the American University of Beirut. The NNA said he obtained a doctorate in planning sciences from University College London in 2008 and directed the Issam Fares Foundation for public policy and international relations at AUB from 2019-2020.

Public Works and Transport Minister: Ali Hamieh

Chosen by: Hezbollah

Born in the village of Taraya in east Lebanon in 1977, Mr Hamieh holds a PhD in electronics and optical communications from the University of Western Brittany in France, the NNA said. He is a lecturer at a number of local universities.

Agriculture Minister: Abbas Al Hajj Hassan

Chosen by: Amal Movement

Born in 1975 in the town of Chaat in the region of Baalbek, Mr Hajj Hassan is a former journalist who previously worked at France 24 in Paris. He studied law and political science in France, the NNA said.

Labour Minister: Moustafa Bayram

Chosen by: Hezbollah

Mr Bayram has a diploma in public law, and a master's degree in financial law from the Islamic University, the NNA said. Born in 1972, he was appointed head legal observer in the audit department of the Council of Ministers in 1998.

Education Minister: Abbas Halabi

Chosen by: Walid Joumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party

Mr Halabi’s biography states that he is a former judge and vice-chairman of the board of directors and legal counsel at Lebanese bank BBAC and holds a degree in French and Lebanese Law from Saint Joseph University in Beirut. He is vice-president of the Lebanese National Commission for Unesco.

Minister of the Displaced: Issam Sharafeddine

Chosen by: Talal Arslan, head of the Lebanese Democratic Party

Born in the town of Aley in 1954, Mr Sharafeddine is a trained pharmacist who branched out into the business world in the 1990s when he started producing soaps, cosmetics and cleaning products, the NNA said.

He is a co-founder of beauty company Sharafeddine Industrial Laboratories and an adviser to Druze politician Talal Arslan, an opponent to Lebanon’s veteran Druze leader Walid Joumblatt, since 1991.

Information Minister: George Qordahi

Chosen by: Christian political party Marada

Born in 1950, Mr Qordahi, a prominent TV personnality, holds a bachelor’s degree in law and political science from the Lebanese University, the NNA said. He worked as a journalist for MBC FM Radio in London and Lebanese television channel LBC. He has been awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Organisation.

Social Affairs: Hector Hajjar

Chosen by: President Michel Aoun

Born in 1965, Mr Hajjar holds a doctorate in dentistry from the Lebanese University, the NNA said. He has worked in NGOs including Caritas and Risala Assalam, which supports people with special needs.

Energy Minister: Walid Fayyad

Chosen by: President Michel Aoun

Mr Fayyad holds a master's in civil and environmental engineering from MIT, the NNA said. He has been managing director of the MENA division at international consulting firm Partners in Performance since 2019.

Tourism Minister: Walid Nassar

Chosen by: President Michel Aoun

Born in the coastal town of Jbeil in 1968, Mr Nassar studied engineering at Beirut’s Saint Joseph University. The NNA describes him as a “founder of several companies in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in the fields of engineering, contracting and project management”.

He recently worked as a consultant for Lebanon’s participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Administrative Development: Najla Riachi

Independent

Born in the village of Khenshara in the mountains north-east of Beirut, Ms Riachi is the only woman in Mr Mikati’s Cabinet.

Ms Riachi has served in a number of diplomatic positions, including as Lebanon’s permanent representative to the United Nations from 2007 to 2017, the NNA said. She holds two bachelor's degrees from Lebanon’s Saint Joseph University in political and administrative sciences, as well as in history and geography. She directed the office of Lebanon’s minister of foreign affairs from 2012 to 2020.

Sports and Youth: George Kallas

Independent

Born in 1953, Brig Gen Kallas has held a number of administrative positions in Lebanese newspapers and universities, including editor of local daily Annahar’s culture pages and lecturer at the faculty of documentation and information at the Lebanese University, the NNA said.

Industry Minister: George Boujikian

Chosen by: Armenian political party Tashnag

Born in 1965 in the city of Zahle, Mr Boujikian is a businessman who has founded several Lebanese companies according to the NNA, including pharmaceutical companies Technoline and BioDiamond Middle East. He holds both Lebanese and Canadian citizenship.

Telecommunications Minister: Johnny Corm

Chosen by: Marada

Mr Corm has been the director of General Paint, a Lebanese company which specialises in automotive coating, for the past two decades, said the NNA. Born in 1966, he holds an MBA from West Virginia University in the US.

Culture Minister: Mohammad Mortada

Chosen by : Amal

Born in 1972, Mr Mortada is a judge who currently heads the Mount Lebanon criminal court, according to the NNA. Between 2009 and 2018, he was twice a member of the Supreme Judicial Council, an ten-member administrative body which approves the appointment of judges amongst others.

Updated: September 17th 2021, 9:18 AM
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