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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Beirut - Mohammed Choucair

Mikati to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Won't Be PM of Govt that Prolongs Lebanon's Crisis

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, ahead of a cabinet meeting in the Baabda Presidential Palace, Beirut, Lebanon, 20 May 2022. (Dalati & Nohra)

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed that he will not shirk his responsibilities, vowing that he is committed to saving the country.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said he will not become the head of a new government that would only prolong Lebanon's crises.

Mikati is favorite to retain his position ahead of binding parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister after the parliamentary elections and election of a new parliament speaker.

Mikati added that if he were to be renamed to the post, he would be committed to adopting reforms and the financial recovery plan and addressing the electricity crisis.

The caretaker PM recently met with President Michel Aoun. Asked about the meeting, he replied that he will not be the head of a government that "manages and prolongs the crisis while the country is on the verge of total collapse."

The imminent collapse "demands that everyone work together to save Lebanon instead of becoming embroiled in debates that serve no purpose but to impede salvation efforts."

Meanwhile, prominent sources from the government and opposition revealed that Aoun will not call for the binding consultations before head of the Free Patriotic Movement and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil completes his search for candidates other than Mikati.

The delay is seen as an attempt to pressure Mikati to extort him to comply with his conditions, added the sources.

MPs have revealed that Bassil adamantly refuses the return of Mikati if he will not accept his demands.

Aoun is aware, however, that delays in naming a PM and forming a government will be costly on Lebanon and raise popular anger.

The sources have ruled out the possibility that the consultations will be held this week, unless Aoun succumbs to the demands of the independent blocs and MPs.

They wondered at the delay even though the constitution does not set a deadline for them and neither does it set a deadline for the designated PM to form a government.

They warned of past experiences when Saad Hariri was named as PM-designate and was months later forced to step down after refusing to yield to Bassil's conditions and which Aoun had blindly accepted, refusing to pressure his son-in-law to facilitate the formation of the government.

The sources revealed that Bassil is in direct contact with several potential PM candidates and has in fact met several of them, arranging meetings with them with political leaderships so that they can present their programs on how to save Lebanon. He has made little progress.

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