Calls and meetings held in the past 24 hours suggest that the new Lebanese government might be formed by the end of the week.
The new government, headed by Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab, will comprise 18 ministers from one political camp: Hezbollah and its allies.
Three main political parties — the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Lebanese Forces — are boycotting the new government.
A draft of the ministers’ names was leaked after a meeting between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Diab on Thursday. Hezbollah and the Amal Movement are set to choose Shiite ministers for the ministries of health and industry.
It remains unclear whether the Information Ministry will be included in the Tourism Ministry or the prime minister’s office.
This latest development led to a fall in the exchange rate of the dollar against the Lebanese pound at money changers, ranging between 2,100 and 2,175 from 2,500 at the beginning of the week. The official rate is stable at 1,515 Lebanese pounds.
Mohammad Murad, president of the Syndicate of Money Changers in Lebanon, expressed hope that “the Lebanese people will use the dollars hidden in their homes after the formation of the government.” He estimated that “$4 billion was withdrawn from the banks at the beginning of the crisis.”
Meanwhile, there have been violent demonstrations over the past two days, targeting bank branches in protest over restrictions imposed on dollar and Lebanese pound withdrawals.
Bank facades were destroyed as riots broke out for the second consecutive night in Beirut. Dozens of protesters and Internal Security Forces (ISF) personnel were injured as the former threw stones and the latter used batons and tear gas.
A roadblock on Bekaa Road almost caused confrontations between protesters and Hezbollah and Amal supporters, leading the army to intervene.
Jan Kubesh, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, said the people’s “demands for a decent future are being ignored” by the country’s politicians.
“Is the increasing number of frustrated people that are unable to face the economic crisis not enough to wake the politicians up?” he asked on Twitter.
Journalists protested in front of the Interior Ministry on Thursday, accusing the ISF of targeting members of their profession.
They were joined by caretaker Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan, who said: “We don’t accept targeting journalists doing their job of covering events, just as we don’t accept the targeting of security forces, which have seen a hundred of their personnel wounded as they do their job of preserving security and imposing public order.”
She added: “The attack against journalists isn’t due to an order. I take full responsibility as I’m at the head of the pyramid, but I didn’t give any order in this regard.”
She said: “There’s a mechanism for accountability, and whoever commits any mistake will be held accountable.”
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government resigned on Oct. 29, two weeks after the start of peaceful protests against tax increases and corruption. Diab was designated to form a new government on Dec. 19.