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BEIRUT: Lebanon’s new Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati has called on the Lebanese to put aside their differences and put the country on the road to recovery.
Mikati, currently interim prime minister, was named prime minister-designate by President Michel Aoun on Thursday after binding parliamentary consultations.
The billionaire, who has already held the position three times, received the support of 54 of the 128 MPs.
However, if he fails to form a new government in the four months before President Michel Aoun’s term ends on October 31, no executive decisions can be made during that time.
Meanwhile, 25 MPs nominated Nawaf Salam, Lebanon’s former ambassador to the UN and now a judge at the International Court of Justice, while one MP, Jihad Al-Samad, nominated former Prime Minister Saad Hariri , stating that “Hariri is the highest representative of the Sunni community in Lebanon.
Forty-six deputies, including Christian deputies affiliated with the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, as well as some reformist deputies, abstained from nominating anyone.
Mikati is expected to hold non-binding parliamentary consultations by Monday or Tuesday to hear MPs’ views and to see if the new government will be a government of national unity.
Following the binding parliamentary consultations, many MPs stressed the importance of forming a government.
MP Sami Gemayel, leader of the Lebanese Kataeb party, said: “I would like MPs to stop saying that there will be no government before the presidential elections. The country cannot wait, and the people cannot wait, nor can the economy or the national currency. Lebanon cannot bear four more months like this.
Calling on the forces of change to unite to form an opposition force, opposition MP Michel Moawad said, “The dispersion of the opposition is a major obstacle to our ability to achieve change.
“We have a collective responsibility in the opposition to agree on crucial steps; otherwise, we will bear the responsibility for what happens in the country.
Hezbollah did not announce its position on participation in the government, but appointed Mikati to form it.
MP Bilal Abdallah, from the Democratic Rally bloc, told Arab News: “When it comes to forming a government, the current stage is different from previous ones. Last time we appointed Mikati and participated in his government, but we have a different approach today. We called to unify the political position of the opposition, but no one responded to our call. The majority remains divided.
Abdallah said the FPM did not nominate Mikati last time, but insisted on selecting all Christian ministers in his government.
“Will it happen again this time? The demands of this political team will be all the more impossible to satisfy if it wishes to disrupt the presidential elections. We have become so used to seeing this team turn political life upside down; how can we believe that he wants to hold the presidential elections on time? They have always disrupted the government just to do what they want. Disturbance is their middle name.
Meanwhile, the FPM continues its campaign against Riad Salameh, seeking to have the central bank governor replaced before the end of Aoun’s term.
Controversial Lebanese judge and public prosecutor for Mount Lebanon Ghada Aoun has filed another complaint against Salameh, his four former deputies, former director general of the Ministry of Finance Alain Biffany and several central bank employees in light of a complaint filed by the People Want Reform group against Salameh and anyone whose investigations reveal that she is involved in illicit enrichment, money laundering, forgery, counterfeiting and fraud.
Aoun, who is affiliated with the FPM, referred the case to the first investigating judge of Mount Lebanon, asking for the arrest of Salameh and the others, and referring them to the criminal court of Mount Lebanon, while maintaining the travel ban imposed on Salameh.
Earlier, Aoun personally oversaw a raid on Salameh’s house in Rabieh area.
State Security agents searched the house and opened safes, only to find that the property had been abandoned and the safes contained only a few papers, which were confiscated.