The United States welcomed the fact that Lebanon’s parliamentary elections were held on time and without major security incidents on Friday, but urged the country’s leaders to form a government as soon as possible to address the country’s severe economic problems.

Hezbollah and its supporters lost a legislative majority in last weekend’s elections.

“We applaud the Lebanese people for their participation under difficult circumstances,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “We also appreciate the crucial role the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces played in supporting the process and ensuring security.”

“As Lebanon looks to the future, we urge those elected and the country’s political leaders to heed the Lebanese people’s cry for change and to work sincerely and urgently to take the essential steps to save the economy,” he added.

The US, according to Price, is advocating the establishment of a new administration that is capable of doing the “hard work required to restore the Lebanese people’s and international community’s confidence.”

Price expressed concern after recordings emerged allegedly showing Hezbollah supporters in Baalbek switching vote ballots, breaking up others, and ransacking voting booths.
“We share the concerns expressed by our international partners about charges of vote-buying, clientelism, and intimidation,” he stated.

Lebanon’s cabinet approved an economic recovery plan on Friday to help the country emerge from a three-year financial crisis.

Ministers agreed on the plan in the cabinet’s final meeting, just before relinquishing decision-making authority after the election, which will name a new prime minister.

Lebanon’s financial crisis, according to the World Bank, is one of the worst in over 150 years.

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