On July 26, following binding parliamentary consultations with President Michel AOUN, Najib MIKATI was appointed as Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate.
The two-time prime minister secured 72 of 118 votes.
“Alone, I don’t have a magic wand and cannot achieve miracles” MIKATI said. “We are in very difficult situation … it is a difficult mission that can only succeed if we all work together”.
A new Cabinet faces the monumental task of undertaking critically needed reforms as well as resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package.
According to Forbes, MIKATI is the richest man in Lebanon, with a net worth of $2.5 billion in 2021. The Harvard-educated businessman from Tripoli owns the Beirut-based investment firm M1 Group. In 2006, he sold Investcom, a telecommunications company he founded with his brother in 1982, to South African company MTN Group.
He has been subject of several corruption accusations, including affairs related to housing loans and telecommunications. In 2005, he formed an interim government that supervised the general election, and decided not to stand to assure its neutrality. In 2011, he formed his second government backed by the March 8 alliance, before he resigned in 2013. He is a member of parliament for Tripoli since 2009.
Lebanon has been governed by a caretaker Cabinet since Prime Minister Hassan DIAB resigned in August 2020 amid protests demanding accountability for the Beirut blast, which officials blame on a stockpile of highly explosive ammonium nitrate stored improperly at Lebanon’s most vital port.
MIKATI will now be tasked with forming a new government that can steer the country out of its worst economic and financial crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
After his nomination MIKATI said: “I don’t have a magic wand and I can’t work miracles … but I have studied the situation for a while and have international guarantees”.
The politician added that his priority would be to implement a French-backed reform plan that would unlock much-needed foreign financial aid.
MIKATI has backing of Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal but faces resistance from Christian lawmakers aligned with AOUN. MIKATI himself does not represent a political party.
Joanna WRONECKA, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon wished MIKATI “success, speed, and support of all political parties” in swiftly forming a government. “There is no more time to lose” WRONECKA said in a tweet.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera, France24.com, Al-monitor.com, Apnews.com, Timesofindia.indiatimes.com, and En.wikipedia.org