By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. on Wednesday called for "real and tangible reforms" in Lebanon after a new government was formed there following months of protests.
In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the new leadership's test will be its actions and ability to respond to the Lebanese people's demands for reforms and the rooting out of corruption.
"Only a government that is capable of and committed to undertaking real and tangible reforms will restore investor confidence and unlock international assistance for Lebanon," said Pompeo.
Lebanon formed the new government Tuesday with Hassan Diab, known for his close ties to Hezbollah, as its new prime minister, which comes nearly three months after the previous government resigned amid mass protests.
The top U.S. diplomat said the political leaders in the country should put aside partisan interests and act in the national interest, citing "unified, non-sectarian and largely peaceful protests over the last three months."
"We urge the government, army and security services to guarantee the safety of citizens as they engage in peaceful demonstrations," said Pompeo, adding violence does not have a place in civil discourse.
Diab said his cabinet was formed in line with protesters’ expectations, adding they would work for the return of looted public funds and the independence of the judiciary.
Lebanon has been rocked by protests since October last year. The small country of six million suffers from high unemployment, slow growth and one of the highest debt ratios in the world, with the debt burden reaching $86.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Finance Ministry.
The unrest forced then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on Oct. 29 amid the country's worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.