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Lebanon Government Wins Confidence Vote, Protests Continue
By Staff, Agencies
Lebanon's new government won a vote of confidence from parliament on Tuesday as protesters trying to block the session clashed with security forces.
Lebanon's new Cabinet, formed last month, is hoping a financial rescue plan that formed the basis of its confidence vote in parliament can help pull the country from a deep financial crisis.
Protesters have been demonstrating since October over the worsening economy and a political class they say is deeply corrupt and say the new Cabinet is part of the elite they want to oust.
One of the world's most heavily indebted states, Lebanon must quickly decide how it will deal with maturities including a US$ 1.2 billion Eurobond due in March, part of US$ 2.5 billion owed this year.
Speaking just before the vote, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab described his government's task as a "suicide mission" that involves trying to put out a quickly approaching "fire ball".
"We must be honest and acknowledge that the risk of collapsing is unfortunately not imaginary," he said.
For his part, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was quoted saying Lebanon should seek IMF technical help to draw up an emergency plan but should not "surrender" to the IMF because the nation could not bear its conditions.
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