• Sunday, Sep 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:33 am

Lebanese lawmakers pick Najib Mikati as new PM

  • Published at 08:58 pm July 26th, 2021
Lebanon PM Najib Mikati
Lebanon's new Prime Minister-Designate Najib Mikati, talks at the presidential palace in Baabda on July 26, 2021 Reuters

Mikati, who has been prime minister twice before, received 72 votes out of a total of 118 members of parliament

Leading Lebanese businessman Najib Mikati secured enough votes in parliamentary consultations on Monday to be designated the next prime minister, raising hopes for an urgently needed viable government to tackle a crippling financial crisis.

Mikati, who has been prime minister twice before and unlike many Lebanese leaders does not hail from a political bloc or dynasty, received 72 votes out of a total of 118 members of parliament.

Like the previous nominee, Saad al-Hariri, he now faces major challenges in navigating Lebanon's sectarian, power-sharing structure to secure agreement on a cabinet equipped to address the country's financial meltdown.

While Lebanon has been run by a caretaker administration for nearly a year, since a huge blast devastated large parts of Beirut, its currency has collapsed, jobs have vanished and banks have frozen accounts. The economic freefall is Lebanon's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

Hezbollah, the heavily armed Shia Islamist movement that the United States deems a terrorist group, nominated Mikati in Monday's consultations and most of the main parliamentary blocs endorsed the choice.

"Today, with signs that hint at the possibility of forming a government..., that's why we named Mikati, to give an extra boost to facilitate forming a government," Muhammad Raad, the leader of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, told reporters.

Among Mikati's endorsers was Hariri, who abandoned his effort to form a new government last week after nearly 10 months of failing to agree its composition with Aoun.

The news of Mikati's likely designation boosted the Lebanese pound on the unofficial parallel market on Monday, where dollars changed hands at around 16,500 pounds, compared to over 22,000 at the height of the deadlock over the government.

In Lebanon's political system, the post of prime minister has to be held by a Sunni Muslim, while the presidency is held by a Maronite Christian.

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