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Najib Mikati holds parleys to form a new government

AFP
Filed on July 27, 2021
Reuters

The last government resigned amid public outrage over a deadly explosion of hundreds of tonnes of poorly stored fertiliser at Beirut port last August.


Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate Najib Mikati on Tuesday held consultations with political parties that he said “unanimously” agreed on the need to put together a government quickly to rescue the crisis-hit country.

But after nearly a year of extreme drift, an economic crisis described by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst since the 1850’s and continued squabbling among political players, he faces an uphill battle.

Mikati, a billionaire who has already twice served as prime minister, took on the task on Monday, days after fellow veteran politician Saad Hariri threw in the towel.

The last government resigned amid public outrage over a deadly explosion of hundreds of tonnes of poorly stored fertiliser at Beirut port last August.

The institutional vacuum is holding up a potential financial rescue plan for the country, which defaulted on its debt last year.

On Tuesday, Mikati met with top political parties, including the powerful Hezbollah movement and the Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun.

“There was unanimous agreement from all blocs and lawmakers on the need to speed up the process of cabinet formation,” Mikati said after consultations ended.

The meetings are the customary official step that follows a new prime minister’s designation, but the high-stakes horse-trading has yet to even begin.

Following a meeting with Mikati, Hezbollah lawmaker Mohammad Raad said his party is ready to “cooperate seriously” with the new PM-designate.

FPM chief Gebran Bassil, accused by critics of repeatedly obstructing previous efforts to form a new government, said his party would stand aside this time.

We will “not to participate in the next cabinet, which means we will not get involved in the formation process”.

In an interview with the An-Nahar newspaper, Mikati vowed his lineup would be “purely technical” and tasked with bridging the gap to elections due next year.





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