BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Leading Lebanese businessman Najib Mikati secured enough votes in parliamentary consultations on Monday to be designated the next prime minister, raising hopes for an urgently needed viable government to tackle a financial crisis.
Mikati said on Monday he would work to form a government to save the country from the crisis.
“I don’t have a magic wand and can’t perform miracles ... but I have studied the situation for a while and have international guarantees,” Mikati said after he won a majority of votes in parliamentary consultations to be nominated.
Mikati, who has been prime minister twice, received 72 votes out of a total of 118 members of parliament.
Like the previous nominee, Saad al-Hariri, he now faces major challenges in navigating Lebanon’s sectarian, power-sharing structure to secure agreement on a cabinet equipped to address the country’s financial meltdown.
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.
Earlier on Monday, Mikati held a brief meeting with President Michel Aoun more than a week after Saad Hariri stepped down as a result of a nine-month political deadlock.
A caretaker administration by Hassan Diab has run the country for nearly a year.
Under Lebanon’s sectarian system, the premier must be a Sunni Muslim.
The Mediterranean country plunged into a political vacuum in August 2020, when the previous administration, led by Diab, resigned following a devastating explosion at the port in Beirut that destroyed swathes of the capital and left more than 200 people dead.