ben wedeman beirut protest
Protesters and police clash for second night in Beirut
02:30 - Source: CNN
Beirut CNN  — 

After months of escalating protests, Lebanon has named a new prime minister and cabinet.

Hassan Diab, a professor and former education minister, will take the top role, according to a statement read by an official at the Baabda presidential palace in Beirut on Tuesday. He was appointed with the backing of Hezbollah, its allies, and the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian political party.

Speaking to journalists after the announcement, Diab said that the nationwide protests that forced the resignation of his predecessor had “unified the country and broke the imaginary barrier between the sects.”

Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab gives a statement following his meeting with outgoing prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut on December 20, 2019.

For 97 days, protestors have decried corruption and a sectarian system that is perceived to benefit the political elite. Hundreds were injured in violent demonstrations over the weekend, which saw Molotov cocktails and rocks exchanged for tear gas and water cannons.

Though former Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down on October 29 last year, he had remained in a caretaker role until now.

A little-known figure, Diab is a professor of computer engineering at the American University of Beirut. His personal website quotes Oscar Wilde and describes Diab as both an educator and entrepreneur.

He will lead a new cabinet, whose names were also announced on Tuesday. In an interview with Lebanon’s state news agency NNA, Diab described his ministers as “technocrats” who would function “away from political parties.”

He also said that a committee of ministers had already been tasked to deal with the country’s financial and monetary crisis.

The new cabinet will hold its first session on Wednesday morning.

Reporting contributed by CNN’s Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut, Hamdi Alkshali in Atlanta and Caitlin Hu in New York.