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Lebanon’s Mikati says chances of forming new govt. greater than chances of him stepping down

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati says chances of success in forming a desperately-needed new government in the cash-strapped country are higher than chances of him resigning in failure.

A caretaker administration by former Premier Hassan Diab ran the country until a colossal explosion at the port in Beirut destroyed parts of the capital and left more than 200 people dead on August 4, 2020.

The catastrophic blast ultimately led to Diab’s resignation, with politicians failing to agree on a consensus government even as Lebanon has been paralyzed by a major financial crisis, which has so far put the currency in a free fall, eliminated jobs, and made banks freeze accounts.

The 65-year-old Mikati, a tycoon and former prime minister, was recently designated to form a new government, some two weeks after the former premier-designate, Saad Hariri, resigned as a result of a nine-month political deadlock.

On Monday, Mikati made the comments after his meeting with President Michel Aoun, saying that there would be more meetings on the formation of the new cabinet later this week, which he said was needed as soon as possible.

He added that the issues were being dealt with one by one.

Separately, the president expressed hope that a new government would be formed in the coming weeks.

The efforts to pave the way for the formation of a new cabinet and end a persisting political vacuum were particularly spurred on by a deteriorating fuel crisis that has brought much of Lebanon to a standstill and marked a crunch point in the small Mediterranean country’s two-year-long financial meltdown.

A day earlier, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, had urged the cabinet to be formed in two or three days, stressing that this was the only way to prevent anarchy which had already begun.

Mikati will need to agree with the president on the composition of any new government in a bid to fill the persisting political vacuum and address the ongoing socioeconomic crisis.

Back in May, Hariri said he would not form a government that simply complies with the wishes of Aoun, who is a Maronite Christian, nor any other political faction.

Hariri was tasked with forming a government for a fourth time in October 2020. That was one year after he resigned as prime minister amid mass protests.

The currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value since fall 2019 and more than half of the population has been rendered jobless as businesses have shut down.

About half of the population is now living below the poverty line as prices are skyrocketing and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

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