Lebanon's billionaire Mikati secures majority to be nominated PM-designate - GulfToday

Lebanon's billionaire Mikati secures majority to be nominated PM-designate


Saad Al Hariri and Najib Mikati greet each other in Beirut on Monday. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Lebanon's billionaire Najib Mikati secured enough votes in parliamentary consultations on Monday to be nominated as the country's new prime minister designate.

Mikati received 73 votes from 118 lawmakers. Earlier, Lebanese President Michel Aoun held a brief meeting with Mikati.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, whose cabinet quit in August last year following the Beirut deadly blast, has continued in a caretaker capacity until the new government is formed.

Mikati served as prime minister twice, and unlike many Lebanese leaders does not hail from a political party or dynasty, did not give any statement after the meeting with president.

LebanonPresident-Najib-750x450Michel Aoun (left) meets with Najib Mikati at the presidential palace in Beirut. AP

Like the previous nominee, Saad Al Hariri, he faces major challenges in navigating Lebanon's power-sharing structure to secure agreement on a cabinet to tackle a crippling financial crisis.

While Lebanon has been run by a caretaker administration for nearly a year, since a huge blast devastated large parts of Beirut, its currency has collapsed, jobs have vanished and banks have frozen accounts.

The economic freefall is Lebanon's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. A senior political source said on Sunday that Hizbollah was set to nominate Mikati, and that most of the main parliamentary blocs supported the nomination.

NajibMitaki-750x450Najib Mikati gestures at the presidential palace in Beirut. Reuters

Among Mikati's endorsers was Hariri, who abandoned his effort to form a new government last week after nearly 10 months of failing to agree its makeup with Aoun.

Hariri told reporters after meeting Aoun that he hoped Mikati would be chosen and succeed in forming a cabinet. "The country has a chance today," he said.

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