Lebanon’s new prime minister Hassan Diab

Lebanon ended a painful wait Tuesday by unveiling a new cabinet line-up, but the government was promptly scorned by protesters and faces the Herculean task of saving a collapsing economy.

A fresh protest broke with major streets blocked with barricades of disused tyres.

More than a month after he was designated with backing from the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah and nearly three after his predecessor Saad Hariri resigned under pressure from the street, Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet of 20 ministers was announced.

The academic and former education minister, who was little-known in Lebanon until last month, insisted in his first comments as premier that his cabinet was a technocratic one that would strive to meet protesters’ demands.

Fire set on the road by Lebanon’s protesters on Tuesday night

A street blocked in Beirut with tyres

“This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilised nationwide for more than three months,” he said.

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He said his government “will strive to meet their demands for an independent judiciary, for the recovery of embezzled funds, for the fight against illegal gains.”

The new cabinet is made up of little-known figures, many of them academics and former advisers, but protesters were quick to argue that the absence of the biggest names in Lebanon’s widely reviled hereditary political elite was but a smokescreen.

Groups of demonstrators had gathered in the streets of Beirut before the cabinet was even unveiled, blocking off a main street in the centre of the capital where violent scuffles with the police left dozens wounded over the weekend.

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The naming of a new cabinet comes just over three months into a street protest movement demanding the departure of the entire political class
“Behind every candidate, there is a political party backing their nomination,” he said.

Paula Yacoubian, a former journalist and independent MP, scorned the new line-up as “patches on old clothes”.