Lebanese Cabinet Fails to Avert Central Bank Vacancy

The Lebanese Cabinet on Thursday failed to appoint a replacement for the retiring head of its central bank, leaving the country’s battered economy with a looming leadership vacuum.

Riad Salameh, 72, leaves office on Monday after 30 years as central bank chief. He faces charges including embezzling public funds, which he denies. A Cabinet meeting Thursday to discuss choosing a new governor was canceled after too few ministers attended.

Lebanese law requires the most senior of the four central bank vice governors to step in if the post is vacant, but they have all threatened to resign if no full-time governor is appointed.

Political disputes have prevented Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, from finding a replacement for Salameh. Wider divisions have also left the presidency vacant and the country without a fully empowered Cabinet for more than a year.

Lebanese leaders have failed to enact all the reforms required by international lenders to unlock billions of dollars needed to save the economy.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund warned that Lebanon’s failure to implement reforms could have “irreversible” consequences and further jeopardize economic and social stability.

Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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