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Lebanese protesters call for new PM's resignation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Lebanese protesters shout slogans as they gather outside the house of Lebanon's new prime minister on Dec. 28, 2019 (Photo by AFP)

Dozens of protesters have rallied outside the residence of newly-appointed Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, in Beirut and called for his resignation less than 10 days after the beginning of his term in office.

The protesters chanted slogans, decrying Diab’s participation as a minister in a government they called corrupt.

The rally comes less than 10 days after President Michel Aoun tasked Diab with forming the next Lebanese cabinet.

Diab began his tenure by promising to listen to the demands of the protesters and vowed to form within six weeks a government of independent technocrats capable of undertaking serious reforms and restoring people's confidence.

“Everyone is willing to cooperate so that Lebanon can have an exceptional government that is not like its predecessors in the number of technocrats and women included,” Diab told Deutsche Welle in the interview aired on Friday.

The country had a caretaker government since former premier Saad al-Hariri resigned on October 29 amid mass protests over economy and corruption.

Lebanon has been facing a very tough economic situation because of the failing policies of successive governments, which have led to the impoverishment of the people.

Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlocks and an economic crisis in recent years.

The country hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and their presence is often blamed for putting pressure on the already struggling economy.

Unemployment stands at more than 20 percent, according to official figures.

The Lebanese Finance Ministry says the national debt is hovering around $85 billion, which accounts for more than 150 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Successive governments have also failed to address a waste management crisis or improve the electricity grid, which is plagued by daily power cuts.

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