Lebanon’s new PM-designate Najib Mikati calls for unity

Filed on July 26, 2021 | Last updated on July 26, 2021 at 11.49 pm

Mikati spoke to reporters shortly after he was appointed to the post by President Michel Aoun.

Lebanon’s newly appointed Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati on Monday urged unity to begin recovery from a devastating economic and financial meltdown roiling the country. He said he will strive to form a new government but the situation is too dire to overcome with the usual fractious politics.

Mikati spoke to reporters shortly after he was appointed to the post by President Michel Aoun, after Saad Hariri earlier this month gave up his months-long attempts to form a Cabinet.

“Alone, I don’t have a magic wand and cannot achieve miracles,” Mikati said. “We are in very difficult situation ... it is a difficult mission that can only succeed if we all work together.”

It is not clear whether Mikati — widely considered to be part of the political class that brought the country to bankruptcy — would be able to break the year-long impasse over the formation of a new government.

A new Cabinet faces the monumental task of undertaking critically needed reforms as well as resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package. The new Cabinet is also expected to oversee general elections scheduled for next year.

One of the richest men in Lebanon, Mikati became a favourite for the post after he was endorsed by most of Lebanon’s political parties, including the powerful Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group and the other major Shia party, Amal, led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. Mikati was also endorsed by former prime ministers including Hariri, who abandoned efforts to form a government after failing to agree with Aoun on the Cabinet’s makeup.

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