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Najib Mikati to form Lebanon's government

June 23, 2022

The billionaire was named prime minister for the fourth time and asked to form a government to save the country from financial collapse. He urged fractious politicians to set aside differences to secure an IMF deal.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati speaks after meeting with President Michel Aoun
Mikati was picked again to lead Lebanon out of crisisImage: Mohamed Azakir/REUTERS

Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, was tasked with forming a new government on Thursday, over a month after parliamentary elections yielded no clear majority.

It is the fourth time that the billionaire businessman has been named prime minister. He secured enough votes during parliamentary consultations to edge out other potential nominees.

President Michel Aoun asked him to form a Cabinet as soon as possible to tackle the country's economic emergency.

Mikati said Lebanon did not have time for "drowning in conditions and demands" of rival groups over ministerial posts.

Lebanon's prime minister position is reserved for a Sunni Muslim, the presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, and the post of speaker is held by to a Shiite Muslim.

What are the main challenges facing Mikati?

Lebanon defaulted on its debt in 2020, the currency has lost about 90% of its value on the black market, and the UN now considers four in five Lebanese to be poor.

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that a conditional agreement had been reached to provide $3 billion (€2.85 billion) in aid to Lebanon if the country could implement reforms that the political elite has long put off.

"We are facing the challenge of either complete collapse or gradual salvation," Mikati said. "Without an IMF deal, there can be no rescue plan," he added.

Analysts expect him to struggle to form a new Cabinet, as the outgoing executive was only formed in September last year after a 13-month wait.

They also expect the Cabinet-formation process to be further complicated by a looming struggle over who will replace Aoun, the Hezbollah-aligned head of state, when his term ends at the end of October.

lo/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)