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Najib Mikati chosen as Lebanon’s prime minister after winning MPs' majority vote

Lebanese lawmaker Mohammad Raad (c), the head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, nominates caretaker Premier Najib Mikati for Lebanon’s premiership, Beirut, Lebanon, on June 23, 2022. (Still by al-Manar)

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been chosen as the country’s premier for the fourth time, and has been missioned by President Michel Aoun to form a new government.

The development came on Thursday, after Mikati was nominated premier by lawmakers, including MPs  from the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, which is the political wing of Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament.

In the later voting that followed, Mikati secured the support of 54 of parliament's 128 lawmakers in consultations convened by President Aoun.

After being chosen as Lebanon's newly-designated prime minister, Mikati called for political factions in the country to put aside differences and cooperate to ease an economic and financial crisis.

Speaking from the presidential palace in Baabda, Mikati called for cooperation with parliament to approve legislation required to secure an International Monetary Fund bailout.

Earlier on Thursday, Hezbollah had named Mikati for premiership, as Lebanese lawmakers held binding consultations over who should be the next prime minister following nationwide elections last month.

The Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, which is the political wing of Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament, announced Thursday that it had chosen incumbent Prime Minister Mikati, a politician and businessman who has already served in the role three times, as the small Mediterranean country’s next prime minister.

“We have decided to nominate Premier Mikati as the head of the next government,” said lawmaker Mohammad Raad, the chief of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, the Hezbollah-linked al-Manar television network reported.

“Our position is easy and restrained. Lebanon needs a government that can manage its affairs and interests. Crises require realism, providing all opportunities and removing obstacles to form a government to deal with deadlines and developments,” he added, stressing that the character of the designated premier will enhance opportunities for this purpose.

The bloc’s nomination of Mikati came shortly after lawmakers began consultations with President Aoun at Baabda Palace over who should be Lebanon’s next prime minister.

The consultations with the president commenced at 10 a.m. and will last until 16:45 p.m. local time.

The designated prime minister must form the 88th government in Lebanon’s history and the fifth during Aoun’s tenure. It is predicted that Mikati will hold the position for the fourth time.

On May 31, Lebanese lawmakers re-elected Nabih Berri as the country's parliament speaker for a seventh consecutive term after his candidature went largely unchallenged.

The 84-year-old veteran politician and one of the longest-serving parliament chiefs in the world secured 65 votes in the 128-member body.

Berri’s re-election came as lawmakers took office after a parliamentary vote on May 15.

Hezbollah and its allies hold sway in the new parliament despite their enemies’ attempts to undermine the political power and popularity of the resistance movement in the recent parliamentary elections.

Berri's Amal movement and Hezbollah hold all 27 Shia-allocated seats in parliament but are short of the majority. 

Since late 2019, Lebanon has been mired in a deep financial crisis that has caused the Lebanese pound to lose around 90 percent of its value to the US dollar and led its banking system to collapse, plunging the bulk of the Lebanese into poverty.

The economic and financial crisis is mostly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon and foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s domestic affairs.

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