On a tight deadline

File - Prime Minister Tammam Salam speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Thursday, April 11, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra)

Lebanon’s new government has a very short window of opportunity in order to make its presence felt – but its theoretically short tenure in office should also help it maintain focus on the areas in which action is needed most urgently.

Some March 14 and March 8 supporters have been outraged by what they see as concessions to the other side in the formation of the government. The easiest way to dispel this anger is by getting results.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Tammam Salam will be obliged to resign if the May presidential election goes forward. Until then, its efforts should target several critically important tasks. Naturally, stability and security are the top priority, meaning that this government can make a solid contribution if it maintains and even steps up ongoing work against terror attacks.

A second issue involves the huge burden of Syrian refugees – a functioning government with a solid plan for receiving, distributing and monitoring the assistance effort will only help the economic situation and restore the international community’s confidence in sending urgently needed humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

Third, the presidential election must take place smoothly and on schedule. Salam’s government won’t be able to design and oversee long-term reform for the various problematic areas of governance and the national economy, but this task can be left to the next government, provided that the leading factions agree on how to ensure the election of a new president who enjoys the confidence of all sides.

As things stand now, the new government has only several months to produce results, but if security, the economy and the presidential election process are managed competently, the results will satisfy the majority of Lebanon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 17, 2014, on page 7.




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